European Parliament elections, quality description

1. Relevance of statistical information

1.1 Summary of the information content of statistics

Statistics Finland produces official statistics from European Parliament elections containing main data on the candidates, elected MEPs, those entitled to vote, those who voted and support gained by the parties.
Preliminary data have been published on the Internet starting from the first European Parliament elections held in Finland (1996); these statistics are updated by the figures of the confirmed result. Statistics Finland's statistics pages on European Parliament elections also include tables in databases, i.e. the StatFin online service, where from 2004 onwards data can be found by voting district as well.

1.2 Essential concepts

Holding of elections

The European Parliament elections are held every five years in all EU Member States. The European Parliament is the only international organ that the citizens elect by direct elections. National authorities are in charge of practical arrangements for the elections. In Finland the organiser is the Ministry of Justice that confirms the candidates and the election result. In Finland the European Parliament elections are held on the second Sunday in June. Elections are held in accordance with the Election Act in force, more details on the Ministry of Justice's webpages www.vaalit.fi (=> Legislation) and www.finlex.fi, Election Act (714/1998).

Legislation

The elections for the Members of European Parliament (European Parliament elections) are held in each Member State in accordance with the national election legislation. In addition, the stipulations of the EU's election regulation (from 1976) are followed. By the amendment made to the election legislation in 1998, all the provisions concerning elections were collected under one act, the Election Act (714/1998), which came into force on 8 October 1998.

The main principles of holding elections

All elections in Finland are held following the principles below:

  • The elections are direct. Electors (those entitled to vote) vote directly for the person they want to be elected.
  • The elections are proportional. In proportional elections each party or other group gains seats in relation to the votes cast for it compared with the votes cast for other groups (not presidential elections).
  • The elections are secret. Secrecy of the ballot means that neither the election authorities nor anyone else get to know for whom voters have cast their votes or whether they have returned an empty ballot.
  • The right to vote is universal and equal. A universal franchise signifies that the right to vote only depends on requirements which citizens usually fulfil. An equal franchise means that every person entitled to vote has an equal right to influence the election results, i.e. everyone has the same number of votes. In general elections everybody has one vote.
  • Voting is personal. The right to vote may not be used through an agent.
  • Voting takes place in front of election authorities.
  • The Finnish election system is a combination of voting for individuals and parties, where a vote goes to both a party and a person (not presidential elections).

Right to vote and eligibility

Entitled to vote in European Parliament elections held in Finland are

regardless of domicile every Finnish citizen who has reached the age of 18 not later that on the day of the election, and

every 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 on the 51st day before election day, unless he/she has lost the right to vote in the Member State whose citizen he/she is. A prerequisite for the right to vote is, however, that the person enrols with the voting register in Finland.

A person entitled to vote may only vote in one Member State in the same European elections, either in his/her home state or in his/her country of residence.

A Finnish citizen, who has registered as a voter in another Member State, is not entitled to vote in the European elections in Finland.

Persons with a right to vote can vote either 1) during the advance voting period, or 2) on the election day on Sunday.

Eligibility

The provisions on eligibility are the same as in parliamentary elections. Thus eligible is
1) every Finnish citizen entitled to vote and not legally incompetent, and
2) every citizen of a Member State of the EU who is entitled to vote and who has registered with and been entered into the voting register in Finland, and who has not lost the right to enter as a candidate in elections in his/her home state.

Nomination of candidates

Candidates in European elections may be nominated
1) by parties entered into the party register, and
2) by voters' associations established by people entitled to vote.

The candidates enter as candidates in the entire country. Each party may nominate not more than 20 candidates. Parties may form electoral alliances. However, the maximum number of candidates for parties forming an electoral alliance may be the same as for an individual party, i.e. 20. All candidates are nominated for the whole country. A voters' association for the nomination of one candidate may be established by at least 2,000 people entitled to vote. Voters' associations may form a joint list that can have at most 20 candidates.

The Electoral District Committee of Helsinki compiles a combined list of the candidates in which the candidates of all parties, voters' associations and joint lists are enumerated in an order drawn by lot. The combined list contains the following information on the candidates: number (beginning with number 2), name and title, profession or position.

Seats

The parliamentary seats are divided so that the Member States small in population have in relative terms more seats than large Member States. The Nice Convention (concluded in 2001) stipulates that the maximum number of the Members of European Parliament after the enlargement of the Union is 732 and that the number of Finnish members is 13. Since Bulgaria and Rumania did not yet accede to the EU on 1 May 2004 as the other ten applicant countries, the parliamentary seats for the electoral period 2004-2009 were distributed proportionally to the other Member States. Therefore Finland has 14 members during the electoral period 2004-2009.

Parliamentary seats are divided between the parties, electoral alliances and voters' associations by the number of votes gained by them in the whole country following the d'Hondt method. The party, electoral alliance or joint list receives as its first comparative index the total number of votes cast for the party, electoral alliance or joint list concerned. The candidate with the highest number of votes cast in the group then gets as a comparative index the total number of votes cast for the group, the second one half of the number of votes and the third one third and so on.

Changes in constituencies and municipalities and consolidations of municipalities

Changes in constituencies and municipalities and consolidations of municipalities concerning elections of different years are presented in the StatFin service and in the conventional European Parliament elections paper publication.

Municipalities are placed into constituencies according to the constituency division in force. The valid statistical grouping of municipalities is used in the statistics (Statistics Finland, Municipalities and Regional Divisions Based on Municipalities).
In the statistical grouping of municipalities, municipalities are divided by the proportion of the population living in urban settlements and by the population of the largest urban settlement into urban, semi-urban and rural municipalities. The classification is based on the definition of urban settlements made every five years in connection with population censuses and on the data thus obtained about the population living in urban settlements.

  1. Urban municipalities are those municipalities in which at least 90 per cent of the population lives in urban settlements, or in which the population of the largest urban settlement is at least 15,000.
  2. Semi-urban municipalities are those municipalities in which at least 60 per cent but less than 90 per cent of the population lives in urban settlements, or in which the population of the largest urban settlement is at least 4,000 but less than 15,000.
  3. Rural municipalities are those municipalities in which less than 60 per cent of the population lives in urban settlements, and in which the population of the largest urban settlement is less than 15,000, as well as those municipalities in which at least 60 per cent but less than 90 per cent of the population lives in urban settlements, and in which the population of the largest urban settlement is less than 4,000.

Classifications used

Statistics Finland's classification of municipalities. Constituency, municipality group, municipality, voting district, party (included in the Party Register), age of candidates and elected MEPs, nationality and country of residence.

Data collection methods and data sources

Statistics Finland receives basic election data from the Ministry of Justice's election data system, the technical implementation of which it has assigned to TietoEnator Group.

1.3 Acts, decrees and recommendations

The function of Statistics Finland is to compile statistics describing conditions in society (Statistics Finland Act of 24 January 1992/48). These also include election statistics. Statistics Finland's working order defines the Population Statistics unit as the producer of election statistics (Statistics Finland's working order, TK-00-1756-01).

2. Methodological description of survey

The statistics are based on census data.
The basic data of the statistics are based on the Ministry of Justice's election information system comprising of six subsystems. They are:

  1. Basic data, including data on constituencies, municipalities, voting districts and election authorities;
  2. Data on polling stations (polling station register), including data on general advance polling stations and polling stations on the election day;
  3. Franchise data (voting register) for which data on every person entitled to vote are collected by the Population Register Centre on the 46th day before the election day. The voting register includes of all entitled to vote the data (e.g. name, personal identity code, constituency, municipality of domicile and polling station) included in the Population Information System on the 51st day prior to the election day. The voting register gains legal force on the 12th day before the election day at 12 noon;
  4. Data on candidates (candidate register) in which the following data on each candidate in the elections are entered: name, candidate number, profession, municipality of residence, party/voters' association that has nominated the candidate, and personal identity code;
  5. A centralised calculation system to which the electoral district committees and the central election committees submit their results of the elections;
  6. Statistics and information service by means of which the results of the elections and other statistical data are transmitted to the media and to Statistics Finland.

Statistics Finland's election data system comprises four election data files: regional file, party file, candidate file and candidate register.

3. Correctness and accuracy of data

The basic data of the statistics are based on the Ministry of Justice's election information system, which can be considered reliable.

4. Correctness and accuracy of data

The confirmed data always differ somewhat from the figures of the preliminary statistics. The 'preliminary results' after the election night serve users before the confirmed result is obtained.

The results change once the result is confirmed in all respects: by voting district, municipality, constituency, party and number of votes gained by candidates, whereby even their mutual order may change.

5. Accessibility and transparency/clarity of data

The first data, or preliminary statistics are published on the Internet, in the StatFin online service and on the statistics pages on European Parliament elections as soon as possible starting from the election night. Election data by municipality and voting district (from 2004) and the numbers of votes gained by elected MEPs (on the constituency level) are entered in the StatFin service.

On the European Parliament elections pages there are in three languages (Finnish, Swedish and English) reviews and tables concerning the election in question. The second data, or the final data are supplied to Statistics Finland after the election result is confirmed. After the confirmation of the election result, the confirmed data corresponding to the preliminary statistics are released (around three weeks from the elections) on the statistics pages on European Parliament elections and the StatFin databases are updated.

Key election results on European Parliament elections have been issued in the election map service since 1996.

A conventional paper publication is also produced on the European Parliament elections in the year following the election year.

The chargeable ALTIKA regional database contains results on European Parliament elections since 1996.

Statistics Finland's chargeable election information services - during elections - are made public in the portal maintained by TietoEnator called ePortti (www.eportti.com). The background analysis and the election map service are chargeable election information services.

6. Comparability of statistics

The new statistical grouping of municipalities (urban, semi-urban and rural) was taken into use from 1999. Prior to that, municipalities were grouped as follows: towns and other municipalities. Changes in constituencies and municipalities between the elections have been taken into account in statistics that have comparative data with the results of the previous elections.

Election results are presented on the statistics pages on European Parliament elections since the first European elections in 1996. Preliminary statistics on European Parliament elections are released on the statistics pages on the Internet.
In addition, the StatFin online service has a time series on European Parliament elections from 1996 (NB From 2004 also data by voting district). This time series is also in English in the StatFin service.
The paper publication European Parliament elections contains recurrent the so-called basic tables on voting turnout and on the election result by municipality for the election year that has comparative data from the previous elections.
Publications of different years contain information on possible changes compared with the previous elections, such as changes in constituencies and municipalities.

7. Coherence and consistency/uniformity

The Ministry of Justice publishes information about the results of different elections and the national candidate register on its webpages (www.vaalit.fi). The statistics published by the Ministry of Justice differ with regard to advance voters from those issued by Statistics Finland, because they are defined on different grounds:

  • The Ministry of Justice counts the number of advance voters from the number of those entitled to vote
  • Statistics Finland counts the number of advance voters from the number of all who voted.

8. Documentation

The classifications used in the statistics can be found on Statistics Finland's homepages.


Last updated 1.6.2005

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): European Parliament elections [e-publication].
ISSN=1798-291X. 2004, European Parliament elections, quality description . Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 17.1.2020].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/euvaa/2004/euvaa_2004_2005-03-03_laa_001_en.html