As the Finnish parliamentary elections are coming this year on Sunday, 19 April, 2015, I thought it would come handy to write about the generalities of the elections.
This post is addressed mainly at foreigners living in Finland who still don’t speak enough Finnish and don’t have the time to search the net in suomi. It’s also for those who do speak the language but find themselves lost in translation when it comes to understanding the basics of the suomalainen parliament and the soon-to-be general elections.
The information below has been obtained from websites in Finnish and English and from conversations with 4 locals. My idea was to jot down quite a few facts and put the most important ones in one place. As a result it will hopefully save some time to those who want to know a bit about the subject but can’t be bothered to follow one link after another.
A bit about the Parliament of Finland
Let’s first start by recalling that Finland is a republic, governed democratically. The citizens elect their president every six years. His/her most important task is to manage foreign policies in cooperation with the government. He/she is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Finnish defense forces.
The current president, elected in 2012, is Sauli Niinistö. His political background is in the National Coalition Party, although presidents have to resign to any political party affiliation. Just a small remark on the presidency: The president’s power was diminished in the new Constitution which entered in force on March 2000. However, Ninistö has taken a rather prominent role in issues regarding Foreign politics, i.e. Finland and Russia.
In Finland the general/parliamentary elections take place every four years. This year, on 19 April, the citizens will directly and secretly elect 200 MPs. Currently the Parliament is formed by 116 men (58%) and 84 (42%) women (Yey!).
Among other functions, the Finnish Eduskunta, or Parliament, is in charge of electing the government who, in turn, must implement the decisions taken by the Parliament in the Plenary. The Parliament also monitors the government’s actions and has the power to dismiss it, if it’s not functioning *adequately*.
The Parliament enacts laws and makes decisions on the State’s budget and on other important issues. It also deals with any international agreements or treaties that Finland has made, such as those related to the European Union. It operates through the Plenary; the 15 permanent committees that handle matters related to foreign affairs, employment, finance, education, transport, etc.; and the parliamentary political groups.
The parties competing for the 2015 parliamentary seats
Below are the 16 parties competing for a chance to run Finland in the next four years. The first three ones have been the most voted for in the last… let’s say, 100 years.
1. The Centre Party (Suomen Keskusta)
2. The Social Democratic Party (SDP – Suomen Socialidemokraatinen puole)
3. The National Coalition Party (Kansallinen Kokoomus)
4. The Finns Party (Perussuomalaiset)
5. The Green League (Vihreä liitto)
6. The Left Alliance (Vasemmistoliitto)
7. The Swedish People’s Party (Svenska folkpartiet, i.e. Suomen ruotsalainen kansanpuolue)
8. The Christian Democrats of Finland (KD – Suomen Kristillisdemokraatit)
9. The Workers Party of Finland (Suomen Työväenpuolue)
10. The Independence Party (Itsenäisyyspuolue)
11. For the poor (Köyhien Asialla)
12. The Pirate Party (Piraattipuolue)
13. Change 2011 (Muutos 2011)
14. The Blue and White Front (Sinivalkoinen Rintama)
15. The Communist Party of Finland (Suomen Kommunistinen Puolue)
16. The Communist Worker’s Party – For Peace and Socialism (Kommunistinen Työväenpuolue – Rauhan ja Sosialismin puolesta)
Important dates for the 2015 Finnish parliamentary elections:
The official Election Day is on 19 April and the confirmation of the results will take place on 22 April 2015.
Other important dates prior to 19.04.2015
27.2.2015 and 5.3.2015: According to the information in the Population Information System on 27.2.2015, the Population Register Centre compiled a voting register on 5.3.2015.
10.3.2015: The candidates’ applications were submitted by this date.
19.3.2015: The candidates were confirmed.
8-14.4.2015: Advance voting took place in Finland.
8-11.4.2015: Advance voting took place abroad.
Electoral districts of Finland
As of 2015, there are 13 electoral districts covering the whole of the country:
3. Southwest Finland (Varsinais-Suomi)
5. Åland (Ahvenanmaa)
8. South-East Finland (Kaakkois-Suomi)
11. Central Finland (Keski Suomi)
Two useful links
Here are a couple of links I’d recommend you to take a look at.
1. Link to Yle News where you’ll find interviews performed in English to eight political leaders from the Centre Party, the SDP, the Finns Party, the NCP, the Christian Democrats, the Green League, the Left Alliance and the SPP: http://yle.fi/uutiset/watch_finlands_political_leaders_interviewed_in_english/7912311
2. Link to a general but concise analysis on the polling and the main parties running up this year: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2015/04/13/finlands-2015-parliamentary-elections-a-final-look-at-the-parties-and-the-polling/
Last but not least: Some Finnish words!
Just to give you a bit of a headache (just kidding), here’s a list of a few words in Finnish that are related to the coming parliamentary elections and which I’ve heard quite a lot lately. If you’re not learning the language, you might as well jump them forward.
äänestä: to vote
äänioikeus: right to vote
pääministeri: Prime Minister
valita: to elect
kansanedustaja: Congress person
vaalikoppi: election booth
oppositio: you’ll figure this one out.
So, there you go. That’s some of the most important information you should count with to get by in Finland these days. If you know any other aspects you think are important for us, foreigners, please do write them down in the comments section. You can also let me/us know what you think about how the elections’ process has been this year or how they differ from the ones in your country. And if you’re a Fin reading this, please do comment as well!
Ta-ta or adiós for now.