Finland's Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said on Thursday he will run for president in next year's election, hoping to succeed Sauli Niinisto who is stepping down after two terms.
It will be Green Party member Haavisto's third attempt at becoming Finland's head of state, having been the runner-up in both 2012 and 2018.
"Recently, many Finns from very different backgrounds have contacted me and appealed for me to become a candidate in next January's presidential election," Haavisto told a press conference, adding that he would run as an independent.
A poll in daily Helsingin Sanomat on May 22 found that 36% of Finns favoured Haavisto to become president, making him a narrow favourite ahead of Bank of Finland Governor Olli Rehn at 31% and foreign policy think tank chief Mika Aaltola at 24%.
Haavisto is expected to step down as foreign minister later this month after the centre-left government of which he is part lost April's parliamentary election.
The first round of Finland's presidential election is due on Jan. 28 next year. If none of the candidates wins more than 50% of votes, a run-off between top two contenders will be held on Feb. 11. (Reporting by Essi Lehto, editing by Terje Solsvik)