After attending school in Finland and later the U.S., Belgium and the U.K., Stubb entered politics in 2004 as a member of the European Parliament. He hit the Finnish big time in 2008 when — to his own surprise — he was named foreign minister.
Praised by allies for his high-energy approach to politics, he was also criticized during his time in government for his occasionally hasty statements, and was forced to apologize after being accused of swearing at a meeting of the Nordic Council, a regional cooperation body.
During a difficult year as prime minister in 2014 he failed to reverse his NCP’s declining popularity, and lost a parliamentary election in 2015 amid an economic slump. After a subsequent spell as finance minister he quit Finnish politics in 2017, vowing never to return.
During the five-month presidential election campaign, observers say, Stubb earned the support of voters by demonstrating a calmer and more thoughtful demeanor during debates than had been his custom, and for being at pains to show respect for his rivals.
“However this election goes, it will be good for Finland,” he said in a debate with Haavisto earlier last week.
Stubb has said he intends to be a unifying force in Finnish society, something the country appears to need after a series of racism scandals involving government ministers and, more recently, strikes over work conditions and wages that paralyzed public services.