Sauli Niinisto, pro-European candidate, is projected winner of Finnish presidential elections

Despite the fiscal chaos roiling the 17 nations that use the single European currency, the pro-European Sauli Niinisto has won the Finnish presidency in a runoff election, according to Reuters.

The news agency cited early tallies and said the results showed the Nordic country’s voters were keen to keep the euro even though the public were concerned by European Union economic bailouts for debt-burdened governments in Europe’s weakened southern corridor.

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Niinisto, a former finance minister, won the post, which is largely symbolic, with about 66 percent of the vote, defeating another pro-European candidate, Pekka Haavisto of the Greens, according to Reuters, which said both men had beaten anti-European candidates in a previous round of votes.

The news agency said the presidency held little executive power beyond the military and non-European diplomacy but was influential in shaping public opinion, implying that the election of Niinisto was a further sign that Finland would not oppose economic bailouts for other European member states.

According to The Associated Press, Niinisto, 63, was finance minister when Finland adopted the euro in 2002 and is popular among older voters. His opponent, Haavisto, was the first openly gay candidate for the presidency of Finland. The AP said he had drawn support from younger, more liberal voters and was the first Green to be given a government portfolio when he became environment minister in 1995.

"Haavisto's sexual orientation, in my mind, will be one of the major reasons, if not the main one, why people won't vote for him," Olavi Borg, a political analyst, was quoted as saying. "The older generation simply isn't ready for it."

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