The presidential candidate is in a registered civil partnership with Ecuadorian man Antonio Flores.
One third of respondents to a survey conducted by the University of Helsinki said that they considered Pekka Haavisto‘s partner — an Ecuadorian man named Antonio Flores — to be a reason not to vote for him in the Finnish presidential election.
The results of the survey were first reported by Yle’s Swedish language unit Svenska Yle, who saw a draft of the Citizens’ Barometer report before it was published by the university.
The barometer asked respondents to rate different reasons for not voting for candidates in the election, and the candidates’ spouses was one of the options.
“In the case of Haavisto in particular, a relatively high proportion of respondents said that the candidate’s spouse is a reason not to vote for him. We are talking about a third of all respondents,” University of Helsinki professor Jaakko Hillo noted.
Haavisto’s partner was cited as an issue even by voters who described themselves as left-liberal, Hillo said, but added that the people who considered it a problem were much more likely to describe themselves as right-wing conservatives.
Although Haavisto’s sexual orientation was the subject of much speculation in the 1990s, it wasn’t publicly revealed until 2002 when he registered his partnership with Flores, an Ecuadorian man he met in Colombia in 1997.
Helsinki University conducted the survey before the first round of voting ended on Sunday 28 January, when there were still nine candidates in the race.
The spouses of the other candidates were not cited as an issue by the survey respondents. All of the other candidates are in heterosexual relationships.
A total of about 1,300 people answered the survey, which aims to monitor voters’ behaviour and attitudes.