Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sauli Niinistö

Sauli Väinämö Niinistö (born 24 August 1948) is a Finnish politician of the National Coalition Party. He is the president-elect of Finland, and will assume office on 1 March 2012, becoming the first president from the National Coalition Party since Juho Kusti Paasikivi, who left office in 1956.

Educated as a lawyer, Niinistö was Minister of Finance from 1996 to 2003 and the National Coalition Party candidate in the 2006 presidential election. He served as the Speaker of the Parliament of Finland from 2007 to 2011 and has been the Honorary President of the European People's Party (EPP) since 2002. He is also President of the Football Association of Finland.

Niinistö was the National Coalition Party candidate in the 2012 presidential election. With 37.0% of the vote, he won the first round of the election and faced off against Pekka Haavisto of the Green League in the decisive second round. He carried the second round with around 62.6% against Haavisto's 37.4%.

Personal Life
Niinistö's first wife Marja-Leena Niinistö died in a car accident in 1995. Niinistö married his second wife Jenni Haukio (born 1977) in January 2009.

Niinistö has a Boston Terrier named Lennu.

While a cabinet minister, Niinistö, a widower, was romantically involved with MP Tanja Karpela, a former beauty queen and later Minister of Culture. Karpela's Centre Party was in opposition and Niinistö was considered the second-most influential man in government. Under close press scrutiny ever since, in 2003 Karpela and Niinistö announced their engagement, which was however called off in 2004.

Niinistö is the uncle of Ville Niinistö, a Green League MP from Turku, leader of the Green League and Minister of the Environment.

In Finland, Niinistö is also remembered as one of the survivors of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. He escaped the ensuing tsunami by climbing up a utility pole with his son Matias in Khao Lak.

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