He had made it through to the final round of voting, but trailed behind Niinistö, of the National Coalition Party, going in.
Currently, Europe has two gay prime ministers: Iceland’s Johanna Siguraardottir and Belgium’s Elio di Rupo.
There are currently no openly gay presidents.
After sitting as member of the Finnish Parliament in the late 80s and early 90s, Haavisto worked for the UN, travelling widely before his return to domestic politics in 2007.
Haavisto is in a Finnish registered partnership with Antonio Flores, who is originally from Ecuador.
Already the first gay candidate for presidency, Haavisto would become the first openly gay man elected directly by the people as a government figurehead in Europe.
Belgium’s Elio di Rupo was appointed prime minister by the king after forming a coalition. The country had gone a year and a half without a central government.
Jerónimo Saavedra Acevedo was the president of the Canary Islands in the 80s and 90s, but it was not until 2000, when he was sitting in the Spanish senate, that he came out as gay.
The Finnish president’s direct powers over the government are limited. Though he or she has a say in international policies, the position is seen largely to represent the country’s social values.
Haavisto said: “More than one million people have supported me and I’m quite satisfied with that.”