Finland’s new President Stubb: Between pancakes and NATO troops

Finland’s new President Stubb: Between pancakes and NATO troops

Alexander Stubb is highly educated, conservative and open to stationing nuclear weapons in Finland. He makes himself approachable on social media.

Sporty: Alexander Stubb at the Triathlon World Championships in Finland in August 2023 Photo: Pepe Korteniemi/Lehtikuva/imago

BERLIN taz | He can make banana pancakes inside out, and the Finns also know that after this election campaign: Alexander Stubb has reached his goal, he will be the new President of the Republic of Finland. The 55-year-old succeeds the popular Sauli Niinistö, during whose second term Finland joined NATO.

The long border with Russia and the question of how best to protect it was of course also a central issue in this election campaign; in Finland, foreign and security policy lies with the president. Stubb was able to plausibly justify the fact that he was prepared for the task based on his many years of experience in international politics. His phone book is full of contacts around the world – after four years in the European Parliament and eight years as a minister, he said on the Finnish television station Yle. In fact, Stubb was not only Finnish foreign minister, later European and foreign trade minister, for the conservative coalition party in various governments, but also served as prime minister for almost a year in 2014.

The newly crowned 13th President of Finland, married to British lawyer Suzanne Innes-Stubb, will take office on March 1st. In addition to Finnish and Swedish, he also speaks English, French and German – not Russian, unlike Putin expert Niinistö.

On the question of whether NATO troops should be stationed in Finland, Stubb showed Finnish self-confidence on military issues during the election campaign: He would welcome troops, he said. However, he still considers Finland to be the main player in its own defense.

Nuclear weapons stationing in Finland possible, says Stubb

The country has never abolished conscription and, unlike Germany, for example, considers its own capacities to be good. The threat from the east also united the Finns in the relatively peaceful election campaign, but a difference with the red-green candidate Pekka Haavisto, who was narrowly defeated on Sunday, could still lead to discussions: Stubb had been open about the question of whether Finland would allow the stationing of nuclear weapons in the future should be allowed in its territory.

Alexander Stubb and wife Suzanne Innes-Stubb casting their vote.

Not a fan of Russia at all: Alexander Stubb and his wife Suzanne Innes-Stubb casting their vote on February 11th Photo: Sergei Grits/ap

However, the biggest challenge for the smart, urbane person in the election campaign was not proving his professional competence. It was more important to counteract his reputation for being too arrogant. He was aware of the prejudice that he was a typical Finnish Swede, which is historically associated with an elitist demeanor. Stubb emphasized more than once that he did not see himself as a Finnish Swede, but rather as someone who grew up bilingually. He grew up “normally”.

This “normal” certainly consisted of a Swedish-language high school diploma and international degrees. And from sports – he almost became a professional golfer. He remained sporty and as a triathlete he completed the Ironman in Hawaii, among other things. His last job: Professor at the European University Institute in Florence.

Another word against accusations of arrogance that Stubb often used in the election campaign: empathy. It is important to him to be empathetic. There are still Finns who don’t trust him to put themselves in the shoes of poorer people, but he was elected anyway. Maybe that made pancakes for a tabloid videoIlta Sanomat contributed.


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