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Press release 16.1.2006

Support for Tarja Halonen in the Presidential election higher than that for the Left in the Parliamentary elections 2003

Tarja Halonen, the candidate of the Social Democratic Party, received 11.9 percentage points more votes in the first round of the Presidential election than the combined result was for the Social Democratic Party and the Left Alliance in the Parliamentary elections 2003. Sauli Niinistö, the candidate of the National Coalition Party, won by 5.5 percentage points compared with the Parliamentary elections, and Matti Vanhanen of the Centre Party of Finland lost by 6.1 percentage points. Both Halonen and Niinistö seem to have received new supporters from areas where the support for their backing parties was low in the Parliamentary elections. Correspondingly, Vanhanen lost votes in areas where the support for the Centre Party was high in the Parliamentary elections.

Halonen and Niinistö won evenly in different types of constituencies. Unemployment, high income level or other background factors of the constituencies did not have a similar effect on changes in support as in other elections, and their support grew almost equally much in different types of constituencies. These data are based on an analysis made by Statistics Finland, in which changes in the support for the candidates and their backing parties were compared with the Parliamentary elections 2003 according to certain background variables.

Support for Tarja Halonen grew in agriculture-dominated areas

Compared with the Parliamentary elections, Tarja Halonen gained most in agriculture-dominated areas, by nearly 13 percentage points. In the conventional stronghold of the Centre Party, the constituency of Vaasa, the support for Halonen grew in agricultural areas by as much as almost 18 per cent compared with the previous Parliamentary elections.

The population structure of the constituencies, such as the proportion of pensioners or of children aged under seven, appears to have had no significant effect on the support figures of Halonen. The results support the notion that the change in Halonen's support was 'apolitical'. There were people who wanted to vote for Halonen despite their usual political views.

Niinistö did well in the service industry areas of Southern Finland, support for Vanhanen fell in agricultural areas

Sauli Niinistö gained support for the same reason as Halonen: people appear to have voted for Niinistö regardless of their party background. However, compared with Halonen, there were small differences in changes in support from the Parliamentary elections. Although Niinistö was also successful in agricultural areas, he gained most votes in such areas in Southern Finland where the proportion of service industries was largest. Niinistö also did well in high-income areas and in areas with a low number of pensioners and a high number of families with children.

While the other main candidates were able to retain the support for their backing parties and gain more votes, the support received by the Centre Party of Finland in the previous Parliamentary elections did not transfer to Matti Vanhanen. Vanhanen lost especially heavily in areas where the Centre Party has conventionally been a strong party, for example, in the constituencies of Vaasa and Oulu. He lost particularly in agricultural and sparsely populated areas, that is, in areas where Tarja Halonen made her biggest gains.

With the exception of Timo Soini, the other candidates lost in these elections: their support was nowhere near that received by their backing parties in the 2003 Parliamentary elections. Soini increased his support in various areas, clearly more in sparsely populated areas and small population centres than in major urban areas, however.

Changes in support by business structure in percentage points, support for the candidate in the Presidential election 2006 compared with that for the corresponding party in the Parliamentary elections 2003

Source: Election statistics. Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Mr Risto Lättilä +358 9 1734 3252;

Director in charge: Ms Riitta Harala

Links: Statistical release related to this press release