Mr Ahtisaari, a diplomat, was ahead with 26.6 per cent support, slightly up from a previous poll. But his three main opponents had also gained. The most dramatic change was for the Defence Minister, Elisabeth Rehn, of the small Swedish People's Party, whose support jumped to 18 per cent from 10.1.
An opinion poll showed that Martti Ahtisaari, the candidate of the opposition Social Democrat Party, was in the lead in the race for the Finnish presidency, four days before polling, Reuter reports from Helsinki. If none of the 11 candidates wins 50 per cent of the votes, the two leaders face a run-off on 6 February.