Parliamentary elections, quality description

1. Relevance of statistical information

1.1 Summary of the information content of statistics

Statistics Finland produces official statistics from Parliamentary elections containing key data on the following:

  • Votes gained by parties and their proportions by municipality divided into votes gained during advance voting and votes gained on the election day;

  • Number and proportion of votes gained by female candidates by party and constituency;

  • The number of persons entitled to vote and persons who voted by gender and municipality both during advance voting and on the election day;

  • The number of candidates and elected representatives by party and gender, and the number of votes to all candidates and the comparative figures by constituency.

The data are available in the Statistics Finland's free database, the StatFin online service (starting from 2003 onwards also by voting district).

1.2 Essential concepts
Holding of elections

According to the Finnish Constitution, the powers of the state are vested in the people who are represented by the Parliament. Members of Parliament are elected in direct and proportional elections according to the Government's decision on how the seats in Parliament are allocated to constituencies. Parliamentary elections are held every four years and the election day is the third Sunday in April of the election year.

Legislation

With the revision of election legislation in 1998 all provisions on elections were collected into one single act, the Elections Act (714/1998), which entered into force on 8 October 1998. Elections are held according to the election legislation in force. More detailed information is available on the Internet pages of the Ministry of Justice at www.vaalit.fi (=> elections => legislation) and www.finlex.fi/en/ (=>Translations of Finnish acts and decrees => Elections Act (714/1998).

The main principles of holding elections

All elections in Finland are held according to the following principles:

  • The elections are direct. Electors (those entitled to vote) vote direct 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 in 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. Universal franchise means that the right to vote only depends on requirements which citizens usually fulfil. Equal franchise means that every person entitled to vote has an equal right to influence the election results. In general elections everybody has one vote.

  • Voting is personal . The right to vote may not be used through an agent.

  • Voting must take 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 in presidential elections).

Right to vote and eligibility

Every Finnish citizen is entitled to vote in Parliamentary elections provided the person has reached the age of 18 no later than on the day of the election.

Persons with a right to vote can vote either 1) During the advance voting, or 2) On the election Sunday.

Eligibility

Everyone with the right to vote and who is not under guardianship can be a candidate in Parliamentary elections. However, a person holding military office cannot be elected as a representative. In addition, certain high officials, such as the Chancellor of Justice of the Government and the members of the Supreme Court may not serve as representatives. Consequently, they may not stand as candidates in elections either unless they resign from office.

Nomination of candidates

A party entered in the register of political parties has the right to nominate 14 candidates in each constituency or, if the number of Parliamentary seats for a constituency exceeds 14, at most as many candidates as there are seats. In addition to parties, a voters’ association founded by at least 100 enfranchised persons in one constituency has the right to nominate a candidate in Parliamentary elections. One person may stand as a candidate in a single election only for one party or voters’ association and in only one constituency. In the constituency of Åland, a voters’ association founded by at least 30 enfranchised persons has the right to nominate a candidate in Parliamentary elections and another person as the candidate's substitute.

Voting percentage = proportion of voters of enfranchised persons

Statistics on general elections include four different voting percentages:

  1. The voting percentage of Finnish citizens resident in Finland.

  2. The voting percentage of Finnish citizens resident abroad.

  3. The total voting percentage which includes both of the above.

  4. A separate percentage for persons belonging to group 2 above and living in Sweden.

Valid and invalid ballots taken into account in the advance voting

As a rule, counting of advance votes starts at 15:00 hours on the actual election Sunday. The count may be brought forward in large electoral districts; the earliest possible starting time being 12:00 noon. The objective is to finish the counting of advance votes by 20:00 hours, from which time onwards preliminary data may be released.

Constituencies

For the purpose of Parliamentary elections, the country is divided into 15 constituencies based on regions. In Parliamentary elections, the seats in Parliament are allocated to the constituencies according to a Government decision. The number of seats in Parliament will change for two constituencies (electoral districts) in the Parliamentary elections of 17 April 2011. The constituency of Uusimaa gains one seat and the constituency of North Savo loses one seat. According to law, one representative is elected from the constituency of Åland and the remaining 199 seats are allocated proportionally to the other constituencies according to the size of their population of Finnish citizens resident in Finland in the Population Information System on 31 October 2010. On 11 November 2010, the Government issued a decree on the allocation of seats in Parliament among constituencies. Seats in the Parliamentary elections 2011 are proportionally divided as following:

  • Helsinki constituency 21

  • Uusimaa constituency 35

  • Varsinais-Suomi constituency 17

  • Satakunta constituency 9

  • Häme constituency 14

  • Pirkanmaa constituency 18

  • Kymi constituency 12

  • South Savo constituency 6

  • North Savo constituency 9

  • North Karelia constituency 6

  • Vaasa constituency 17

  • Central Finland constituency 10

  • Oulu constituency 18

  • Lapland constituency 7

  • Åland constituency 1

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 Classifications section of the Internet home page of the statistics.

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 (entered in the Party Register), age of candidates and elected MPs.

The names of constituencies in the Parliamentary elections 2011 are:

  1. Helsinki constituency

  2. Uusimaa constituency

  3. Varsinais-Suomi constituency

  4. Satakunta constituency

  5. Åland constituency

  6. Häme consitituency

  7. Pirkanmaa constituency

  8. Kymi constituency

  9. South Savo constituency

  10. North Savo constituency

  11. North Karelia constituency

  12. Vaasa constituency

  13. Central Finland constituency

  14. Oulu constituency

  15. Lapland constituency

Candidates have been nominated in the Parliamentary elections 2011 by the following registered parties:
  • The Finnish Social Democratic Party (SDP)

  • Centre Party of Finland (KESK)

  • National Coalition Party (KOK)

  • Swedish People's Party in Finland (RKP)

  • Christian Democrats in Finland (KD)

  • Green League (GREENS)

  • Left - Wing Alliance (LEFT)

  • True Finns (PS)

  • Communist Party of Finland (SKP)

  • Finnish Seniors Party (SSP)

  • Communist Worker's Party (Finland) – For Peace and Socialism (KTP)

  • Finnish Labour Party (STP)

  • Independence Party (IP)

  • For the Poor (KA)

  • Pirate Party of Finland

  • Change 2011

  • Liberty Party – Future of Finland

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 is assigned to Tieto.

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 Rules of Procedure define the Population Statistics department as the producer of election statistics (Statistics Finland’s Rules of Procedure, TK-00-1469-00).

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 consisting of six subsystems. They are:

  1. Basic data, including data on constituencies, municipalities, and 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 prior to the election day. The voting register includes personal data on each person entitled to vote (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 at 12:00 noon on the 12th day prior to the election day;

  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.

Background analysis of person entitled to vote, candidates and elected MPs

The analysis is based on the national candidate register (Ministry of Justice) and on the results of the preliminary calculation as well as on Statistics Finland's employment statistics data.

3. Correctness and accuracy of data

The basic data of the election statistics derive on the Ministry of Justice's election data system and from data supplied by the election authorities, which can be considered reliable.

4. Timeliness 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 all candidates and by elected representatives, whereby even their mutual order may change.

5. Accessibility and transparency/clarity of data

The preliminary statistics are published on the Internet, in the StatFin online service and on the web pages of statistics on Parliamentary elections as soon as possible. Election data by municipality and voting district (starting from 2003) and the numbers of votes gained by candidates and elected representatives are entered into the StatFin online service.

Reviews and time series tables in addition to the tables concerning the elections in question are available in three languages (Finnish, Swedish and English) on the web pages of statistics on Parliamentary elections. The second, or final, data are supplied to Statistics Finland after the election result is confirmed. After the confirmation of the election result, the data are released on the statistics pages on the Internet and the StatFin online service is updated.

The chargeable ALTIKA regional database contains results on Parliamentary elections starting from 1983.

6. Comparability of statistics

The municipal classification of the election year is used in the statistics. The new statistical grouping of municipalities (urban, semi-urban and rural) was introduced starting from the year 1999. Prior to that, municipalities were grouped as follows: towns and other municipalities. Changes in constituencies and municipalities between elections have been taken into account in statistics which contain comparative data with the previous elections.

Election results are presented as time series tables starting from 1908 on the statistics pages on Parliamentary elections. Preliminary statistics on Parliamentary elections have been released on the Internet since 1995. In addition, the StatFin online service contains a time series on Parliamentary elections starting from 1983 (NB! From 2003 onwards also data by voting district).

7. Coherence and consistency/uniformity and documentation

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

  • whereas Statistics Finland counts the number of advance voters from the number of all persons who voted.

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


Source: Parliamentary Elections 2011, preliminary data, Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Kimmo Moisio (09) 1734 3239, Jaana Asikainen (09) 1734 3506, vaalit@stat.fi

Director in charge: Jari Tarkoma


Updated 18.4.2011

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Parliamentary elections [e-publication].
ISSN=1799-6279. 2011, Parliamentary elections, quality description . Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 20.10.2017].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/evaa/2011/evaa_2011_2011-04-18_laa_001_en.html

Share