Finns vote in presidential election; incumbent the favorite

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Finns vote in presidential election; incumbent the favorite
Independent candidate and current President Sauli Niinisto campaigns a day ahead of the election day at a shopping mall in Helsinki, Finland, Saturday Jan. 27, 2018. Finns are electing a new president among eight candidates with observers expecting the highly popular incumbent to score a win already during Sunday's first round. (Antti Aimo-Koivisto/Lehtikuva via AP)

HELSINKI (AP) — Finns are casting ballots in a presidential election, with incumbent Sauli Niinisto considered the favorite to win the first round of voting in the Nordic nation.

Recent polls predict the 69-year-old Niinisto will get between 58 and 63 percent of the vote while his closest rival, Pekka Haavisto of the Greens, would garner some 14 percent.

If none of the eight candidates running Sunday achieves a majority, the top two will face each other in a Feb. 11 runoff. The post has a six-year term.

Niinisto, a former finance minister and parliament speaker, has been very popular since taking office in 2012. He is running as an independent with no association to the conservative National Coalition Party that he earlier chaired.