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Europe

Finnish conservatives' new leader set to become prime minister

Finland's National Coalition Party has chosen Alexander Stubb as its new leader. Stubb is now expected to succeed Jyrki Katainen as the country's next prime minister.

Stubb overwhelmingly won a party vote on Saturday, defeating his rival, Social Affairs Minister Paula Risikko. He garnered 500 votes compared to Risikko's 349.

"If we manage to keep a portion of the recent positive sentiment in the party, we will win next year's parliamentary elections," Stubb said after being declared the winner.

Currently serving as both Finland's EU affairs and trade minister, Stubb is now set to lead the country's five-party governing coalition. Incumbent Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen announced his resignation in April, saying that he wants to pursue a top post in the European Union.

Stubb represents the National Coalition Party's liberal wing. He supports NATO membership for the traditionally neutral nation, which shares a 1,340-kilometer (832- mile) border with Russia.

But the 46-year-old will not be confirmed as Finland's prime minister until next week, when the coalition meets to reshuffle the Cabinet.

slk/kms (AFP, AP, Reuters)