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Elections and voting

​Elections and voting

National elections in Finland comprise the General election, the Presidential election, local elections and the European Parliament election. In addition, consultative referendums may be organised nationally and locally.

Right to vote

Every Finnish citizen is entitled to vote in parliamentary elections, the Presidential and European Parliament elections provided that the person has reached the age of 18 not later than on the day of the election. In the Presidential election, the voting age must be reached not later than on the day of the first round of the Presidential election.

Those with a municipality of residence in Finland have the right to vote in municipal elections and municipal referendums. In addition to Finnish citizens, citizens of EU Member States as well as Iceland and Norway are entitled to vote in these elections and referendums, as are other foreign citizens if they have resided permanently in Finland for more than two years.

Any citizen of another Member State of the European Union who has reached the age of 18 not later than on the day of the election and whose municipality of residence, as defined by law, is in Finland or who is employed by the European Union or an international organisation or is a family member of such a person if they reside in Finland and their data are stored in the Population Information System as prescribed in the Act on the Population Information System and on the certification services of the Population Register Centre (661/2009).

Nomination of candidates

General election

Parliamentary election candidates can be nominated by registered political parties and constituency associations established by at least 100 persons entitled to vote. Each party can nominate a maximum of 14 candidates in each electoral district. If more than 14 candidates are elected from an electoral district, the number of candidates may be, at most, the number of candidates elected from that electoral district. Political parties have the right to form electoral alliances. The total number of candidates nominated by electoral alliances may not exceed that of a single party.

Local elections

Local election candidates can be nominated by political parties by a minimum of 10 persons entitled to vote, who have established a constituency association. Each party can nominate at most one and a half times as many candidates as there are places for elected representatives. For example, if a municipality has places for 27 elected representatives, a party may nominate a maximum of 40 candidates. Political parties have the right to form electoral alliances. The total number of candidates nominated by electoral alliances may not exceed that of a single party.

European Parliament election

In the European Parliament election, each party, electoral alliance or joint electoral list can nominate a maximum of 20 candidates in each country. The electoral district comprises the entire country of Finland.

Presidential elections

Candidates may be nominated in Presidential elections by a political party, from whose list of candidates at least one representative was elected in the most recent parliamentary elections, or by at least 20,000 persons entitled to vote, who have established a constituency association. A political party or a constituency association may nominate only one candidate. The electoral district comprises the entire country of Finland. Each party elects their candidate in a manner determined by their own procedures. Political parties and constituency associations may nominate the same candidate.

Elections

General election

The number of representatives elected in elections, which take place every four years, is 200. The number of representatives elected from each electoral district is in proportion to the population of the electoral district. In the electoral district of Åland, one representative is always elected.

By voting in the General election, you can contribute to, e.g.

  • the development of society and issues such as care for the elderly
  • the focus areas of the national economy, how public money is spent
  • the formation of the Government, a five-party coalition or some other combination

because the Parliament legislates, decides on the State Budget, appoints the Prime Minister, oversees government activities, plays a role in decision making on EU affairs, and approves the major treaties that obligate Finland.

​Local elections

The local elections are carried out every four years on the fourth Sunday of October. By voting in a local election you can contribute to, e.g.

  • how and on what your municipality chooses to spend public money, whether on business development, bicycle lanes, libraries
  • the appearance of the city or municipality, through planning, parks, principles governing high-rise building
  • how matters are run, e.g. the rules and regulations governing libraries

The elected local council

  • elects members to the local executive, the task of which is to prepare and implement council decisions
  • elects members to the local authority committees, which are in charge of producing public services in a municipality
  • determines the income tax rate in the municipality
  • decides on the basic services for residents, the most important of which concern social and health care, education and culture, and the environment and technical infrastructure.

​Presidential election

The President of the Republic is elected by a direct popular vote, if necessary in two rounds. The President must be a native-born Finnish citizen. The election day is the fourth Sunday of January in the election year. In the event that one of the candidates secures a simple majority of votes in this election (the first round), they will be appointed president. If this is not the case, a second round of election will be carried out on the Sunday two weeks later between the two candidates who received the most votes in the first round. The candidate who receives a simple majority of votes in the second round will be appointed president.

The term of office for the President of the Republic is six years.

​European Parliament election

In the European Parliament election, a total of 751 members are elected to the European Parliament from the 28 Member States, 13 of whom are elected from Finland. By voting in the European Parliament election, you can contribute to the kind of Europe you wish to live in, whether in terms of employment, travel, agriculture, fishery, foreign and security policy or the environment

The European Parliament

  • appoints the President of the European Commission and approves the members of the Commission
  • decides on EU legislation together with the European Commission
  • decides on the EU budget together with the European Commission
  • approves the accession of new Member States to the EU and important international treaties
  • oversees the European Commission and other EU agencies and ensures that they operate according to democratic principles

MEPs form parliamentary groups based on political views, not nationalities.