Elections in Finland
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On national level Finland elects a head of state — the President of the Republic — and a legislature. The president is elected for a six-year term by direct popular vote. The Parliament (in Finnish eduskunta, in Swedish riksdagen) has 200 members, elected for a four-year term by proportional representation in multi-seat constituencies. Finland has a multi-party system, with three traditionally strong parties (Social Democrats, Center, National Coalition), in which one party does not often have a chance of gaining power alone, and parties must work with each other to form coalition governments.
In addition to the presidential and parliamentary elections, there are European Parliament elections every five years, and local municipal elections every four years. Municipal elections are held separately in the Municipalities of Åland at the same time as the election of the Parliament of Åland.
The president is elected by popular vote for a six-year term. An election was last held January 22, 2012 (second round on February 5, 2012). See Finnish presidential election, 2012.
2000 Presidential election
SDP's winning candidate was Tarja Halonen. National Coalition's candidate Riitta Uosukainen was clearly left out of the second round, after Sauli Niinistö declined candidacy. Center Party's candidate Esko Aho qualified for the runoff, and was defeated by a one-percent margin in the runoff by Tarja Halonen.
Under Finland's parliamentary system the prime minister can ask the president to dissolve parliament at any time during its 4-year term, which would result in "early" elections. However, this has not occurred in the past two decades and general elections have been held every four years on the third Sunday in March in 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003, and 2007. The 2011 parliamentary elections took place on 17 April 2011.
The d'Hondt method of proportional representation, used in Finland, encourages a multitude of political parties and has resulted in many coalition-cabinets. The d'Hondt method, while easy to understand and use, tends to favor large, established political parties. For example: in 2007, there were 2,000 candidates representing 18 different parties (plus independents) running for the 200 seats, and those who were elected came from just eight parties. The Prime Minister of Finland is appointed by the president, based on the vote in the parliamentary elections. Usually the chairman of the biggest party becomes the next prime minister.
In the parliamentary elections of 16 March 2003, there were two dominating parties: the Center Party (KESK) got 55 seats, and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) got 53 seats, in the 200-seat Eduskunta. A new cabinet was formed by Center and Social Democrats together with the Swedish People's Party.
In the parliamentary elections of 2007, the Center Party retained its lead at 51 seats, but the election was a major victory for the National Coalition, which got 50 seats, and a major loss to SDP, which got 45 seats, losing 8 seats. A new coalition cabinet, Vanhanen II, between Center, Coalition, Greens, and the Swedish People's Party was formed.
Åland legislative election
Åland is a province that accounts for 0.5% of Finland's population, a total population of 27,210. The Åland Islands autonomous political status under the Act on Åland Autonomy gives the Parliament of Åland legislative powers over a number of areas. Aside from these issues, the state of Finland, represented by the Provincial Governor, is sovereign and residents vote in general parliamentary elections for one representative to the Finnish parliament.
Elections in Åland are held every four years at the same time as municipal elections are held in the Municipalities of Åland. A proportional representation system encourages a multitude of political parties and has resulted in many coalition cabinets. Åland has different political parties than continental Finland.
The Premier of the Government of Åland, Lantråd, is appointed by the speaker of the Parliament, based on the vote in the parliamentary elections. Usually the chairman of the biggest party becomes the next prime minister. In the parliamentary elections on 21 October 2007 there were two dominating parties: the Liberals for Åland got 10 seats, and the Åland Centre got 8 seats, in the 30-seat Lagting. These parties then formed a new cabinet led by Viveka Eriksson.
Municipalities of Finland, that include cities and other (rural) municipalities, are the basic local administrative units of the country. Most of basic services are provided by the municipality, and are bound to do so by law. Municipalities have council-manager government, where the council (valtuusto) is the highest authority. Every four years, a council is elected.
Councils name a civil servant, the city manager or municipal manager, to conduct day-to-day administration of the municipality. In addition, councils name committees (lautakunta) and a municipal executive board (kunnanhallitus). Councils meet periodically and decide on major issues. The executive board prepares the bills and is responsible for the administration, finances and supervision of the interests of the municipality. Unlike in central government, executive boards usually consist of all parties represented in the council; there is no opposition.
2008 municipal elections
Although municipal elections are local only, and local results vary, they do function as a measure of the sentiments and party strengths also nationally. In the 2008 election, National Coalition was the most-voted party, with Social Democrats second and Center the third. Proportionally, the biggest winner were the True Finns, whose share of votes rose to 5.4% from 0.9% in 2004 municipal elections. The losers were the Social Democrats and the Center. Center's loss was especially significant because in Lapland, where it usually was the most powerful, its loss was the largest.
Elections in the European Union
As of 2013 there have been only two referendums in Finland:
In both cases measures passed, and Parliament acted according the results of the vote (although the referendum in Finland is non-binding).
There were also around 40 municipal referendums in Finland (as of 2006). Most have been about municipal mergers.
If 50 thousand Finnish citizens sign an initiative (for an act or a referendum), the Parliament has to discuss it, but the initiative is not binding, so the parliament does not have to initiate a referendum. This provision entered into force on 1 March 2013, and the first such initiative to reach Parliament was an initiative to ban fur farming, which was rejected by the Parliament. Several other initiatives reached the Parliament in 2013, including "Common Sense in Copyright" initiative, and a gay marriage initiative.
- Government of Finland
- President of Finland
- List of political parties in Finland
- List of political parties in Åland
- Electoral calendar
- Electoral system
- Finnish Ministry of Justice website about elections in Finland
- Adam Carr's Election Archive
- NSD: European Election Database - Finland publishes regional level election data; allows for comparisons of election results, 1991–2007
- "Constitution of Finland". Retrieved 2013-11-02.
- "Referendums". kansanvalta.fi. 2006-10-12. Retrieved 2013-11-02.
- "Finnish citizens’ initiative". Population Register Centre. Retrieved 2013-11-02.
- "Parliament will not ban fur farming". Yle. 2013-06-11. Retrieved 2013-11-02.
- "Finland says no to fur-farming ban". Alaska Dispatch. 2013-06-19. Retrieved 2013-11-02.
- "Crowdsourced Finnish Copyright Initiative Meets Signature Requirement". SlashDot. 2013-07-23. Retrieved 2013-11-02.
- "Gay marriage initiative proceeds to Parliament with 162,000 backers". Yle. 2013-09-19. Retrieved 2013-11-02.