Pekka Haavisto, of the Greens Party,
has advanced to a runoff election against Sauli Niinisto in the race
to become Finland's president, the AP reported.
Niinisto led 7 rivals in Sunday's
presidential election with 37 percent of the vote, but failed to
receive the majority needed to win the contest. The two highest
vote-getters advance to a February 5 runoff election.
Haavisto is the first openly gay
candidate to run for the post in Finland.
The president is largely removed from
daily politics, but holds tremendous influence over public opinion.
The 63-year-old Niinisto, a former
finance minister and member of the conservative National Coalition
Party, narrowly lost a 2006 presidential bid.
Haavisto, 53, is a former environmental
minister who is involved in the United Nations.
“He's extremely cultured and
civilized. We need a member of a new, educated generation who hasn't
been corrupted by politics,” supporter Laila Halme told the news
Haavisto has been in a registered
partnership for 10 years.
A poll released Thursday shows Niinisto
winning next month's runoff with a majority of the vote.