Sauli Niinistö


May 17, 2022

Sauli Väinämö Niinistö [ˈsɑu̯li 'væi̯næmœ 'niːnistœ] (born August 24, 1948 in Salo, Varsinais-Suomi) is a Finnish politician from the conservative National Coalition Party and since March 1, 2012 the twelfth President of the Republic of Finland. His second term of office began on February 1, 2018. From 1995 to 2003, Niinistö held various government posts in the Lipponen I and II cabinets, including that of Deputy Prime Minister. From 2007 to 2011 he was Speaker of the Finnish Parliament in the 35th legislature. From 1999 to 2000 Niinistö was Chairman of the Board of Directors of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, from 2003 to 2007 Vice President of the European Investment Bank.

Origin and studies

Niinistö was born in Salo in 1948 to Väinö Pellervo Niinistö, a sales manager, and Hilkka Niinistö, a nurse, the youngest of four children. In his family, conservative votes were traditionally chosen. From 1968 to 1969 he did his military service and became a lieutenant dismiss. After graduating from Ylioppilastutkinto (Abitur) in 1966, he began studying law at the University of Turku, which he graduated in 1974. He then worked as a police officer and was chief of police for the municipality of Kisko. In 1976 Niinistö became a deputy judge at the Turku Court of Appeal and in 1978 he opened his own law firm. With his entry into the Finnish Parliament in 1988, he ended his activities as a lawyer, closed his law office and gave up his position as a judge.


In 1974, Niinistö married Marja-Leena Alanko, with whom he has two sons, Nuutti (b. 1975) and Matias (b. 1980). In 1995 she died in a traffic accident. In 2005, he wrote about his experiences of raising his sons alone in his book Viiden vuoden yksinäisyys (Eng.: Five years of loneliness). His sons are now married themselves and have children. Niinistö is a multiple grandfather, his first grandchild was born in 2009. From the late 1990s he was in a relationship with the former Miss Finland and then Center Member of Parliament Tanja Karpela. In 2003, the couple got engaged; The engagement was canceled in 2004. In 2009 he married the poet and then head of communications for the collection party, Jenni Haukio. Their first son, Aaro Veli Väinämö Niinistö, was born on February 2, 2018. The family owns a Boston Terrier named Lennu, also jokingly referred to as the First Dog by the Finnish media. The dog has been the subject of numerous memes on the Reddit platform and has also been featured on the US Tonight Show. Niinistö was in Thailand with his two eldest sons when the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake struck and was lucky to survive by climbing a telephone pole with his younger son for several hours. MEP Ville Niinistö is his nephew. Niinistö is a practicing Christian and a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland.


Public Offices

Local Politics in Salo (1977 to 1992)

In his hometown of Salo, Niinistö sat on the city council from 1977 and was its chairman from 1989 to 1992. Between 1977 and 1988 he was also a member of the city administration. In 1992 Niinistö ended his local political activities.

Member of Parliament (1987 to 2003; 2007 to 2011)

In 1987, Niinistö was first elected to the Eduskunta for his hometown of Salo. There he was a member of the National Coalition Party faction. In 2006 he announced his intention to return to parliament in the 2007 election and received 60,498 votes, the most in the hundred-year history of elections in Finland his return to the Eduskunta, N