Fresh research commissioned by the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat indicates that homofobic attitudes were a key component in the backing given to the conservative presidential candidate Sauli Niinistö. One third of the voters for Niinistö chose him on the grounds that the other candidate Pekka Haavisto was a homosexual and they did not want to support him. The homosexuality of Haavisto was a weightier asset for Niinistö than Niinistö`s views on foreign policy.
Helsingin Sanomat noted in a comment that Niinistö´s best asset in the campaign was his opponent.
Sauli Niinistö was sworn in on March 1st. In the second round he got 62 percent while his opponent Pekka Haavisto received 38 percent of the votes.
The chairperson of Seta, the leading Finnish sexual equality organization, Ms Outi Hannula expressed her concern. She noted there were strong attitudes against homosexuality in Finland. – The percentage (35 percent) is high. What is the approach of these people when they encounter homosexuals, she asked.
Head of the Tampere University Institute for Societal Research Risto Heiskala said it was surprising that negative grounds had become so central in the attitudes of the Niinistö supporters. The would-be president’s foreign policy competence had less value than the homosexuality of his opponent. Heiskala pointed out though that Finland has become more liberal at a high speed. Not so long ago (until 1972) homosexuality was prohibited in the law in Finland.