Concepts and definitions
- Advance polling stations
Advance polling stations include:
1) general advance polling stations in Finland laid down in a Decree
2) Finnish diplomatic missions set out by a decree
3) hospitals and prisons (institutions)
4) Finnish ships
5) a voter's residence (subject to certain preconditions).
- Advance votes
The valid and invalid ballots taken into account in the advance voting.
As a rule, advance votes are counted on the actual election day, Sunday, at 15.00 pm. The count may be advanced in large electoral districts; the earliest possible starting time is at 12 noon. The objective is to finish the counting of advance votes by 20.00 pm, from which time onwards advance data can be released.
- Advance voting
Advance voting is conducted in all general elections both in Finland and abroad. The Election Act (section 46, subsection 1) decrees that every enfranchised person is entitled to vote in advance in the general advance voting polling stations in Finland and in the Finnish diplomatic missions abroad. On election day an enfranchised person may vote only in the polling station of his/her own voting district. A voter need not give grounds for advance voting, but may freely choose between voting in advance or voting on the election day.
Advance voting commences on the 11th and ends on the 8th day before the election day both in Finland and abroad.
- Advance voting percentage
The percentage of voters who voted in advance = their share of all voters.
In Statistics Finland statistics the share is calculated from all persons who voted. On the Ministry of Justice's Internet pages the percentage is calculated from all persons entitled to vote.
- Constituency association
The basic unit (in addition to political parties) for nominating candidates in parliamentary elections, European Parliamentary elections, the Presidential election and municipal elections. (See nomination of candidates.)
- Council (council seats)
The number of seats in the council depends on the size of the municipality (population). The smallest number of councillors is 17 (maximum population 2,000) and the highest 85 (population of over 400,000).
- Councillor (elected)
A candidate in his/her home municipality who has been elected from among the municipal election candidates on the basis of the votes cast.
- Election Act
The new comprehensive Election Act was approved in the Presidential Session of 2 October 1998. The Act contains both the common procedural provisions on different elections and the specific provisions on all general elections. The Act replaced the earlier separate Acts on parliamentary elections, the Presidential Election, municipal elections and the European Parliamentary elections.
The new Election Act was applied for the first time in the Parliamentary elections of 1999. The new division into constituencies based on the division into regions was applied for the first time in the Parliamentary elections held in spring 2003.
In all elections related concepts the date of ratification is considered to be the first day of being in force. After its entry into force, the new Act has been applied to all general elections.
The general preconditions of eligibility are mostly identical with the preconditions for being entitled to vote in elections. In municipal elections the preconditions of eligibility and being entitled to vote differ in that eligibility requires permanent residence in the municipality, whereas to be entitled to vote it is sufficient that a person is domiciled in the municipality 51 days before the elections.
Eligible as candidates in municipal elections are persons
1) whose municipality of residence is the municipality in question
2) who are entitled to vote in municipal elections in some municipality, and
3) who are not under guardianship (legally incompetent).
All persons entitled to vote and not under guardianship can stand as candidates in parliamentary elections. A person holding military office cannot, however, be elected as a representative. In addition certain high officials may not serve as representatives unless they resign from office.
Eligible as candidates in European Parliamentary elections are
1) all Finnish citizens who are entitled to vote in elections and not legally incompetent
2) all citizens of a Member State of the EU who are entitled to vote and who have registered and been entered into the voting register in Finland, and who have not lost eligibility in elections in their home state.
Native-born Finnish citizens are eligible in Presidential elections.
- Entitled to vote
In parliamentary elections, the Presidential election and European Parliamentary elections, every Finnish citizen is entitled to vote provided the person has reached the age of 18 no 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.
In European Parliamentary elections, a citizen of another European Union Member State is also entitled to vote provided the person has reached the age of 18 no later than on the day of the election and whose municipality of residence referred to in the Municipality of Residence Act (201/1994) is in Finland provided the person has not lost the right to vote in European elections in the country of which he/she is a citizen (Election Act, Section 2).
- Invalid ballots
The provisions on invalid ballots are in section 85 of the Election Act. Grounds for invalidity are
1) the ballot envelope contains something else or more than one ballot paper
2) the ballot envelope has an unauthorised mark
3) something other than a ballot paper printed by the Ministry of Justice has been used as the ballot paper
4) the ballot paper has not been stamped
5) the candidate's number has been written unclearly
6) the elector's name or distinctive identification or some other inappropriate marking has been made on the ballot paper.
In addition to the above, statistics are compiled also on the number of empty ballots.
- Municipal elections
Finland is divided into local authorities where the autonomy of residents is safeguarded in the constitution. In general elections, the residents elect a council, which makes binding decisions and forms the organs responsible for preparatory work, enforcement and other administrative functions (municipal executive board and committees).
Elections are held, i.e. the council is elected, every four years on the third Sunday of October. This size of the council varies according to the population of the municipality (number of councillors ranges between 17 and 85).
- Nomination of candidates
Parliamentary election candidates can be nominated by registered political parties and constituency associations established by at least 100 persons entitled to vote. When nominating candidates two or more political parties have the right to form an electoral alliance by mutual agreement. Correspondingly, two or more constituency associations have the right to form a joint electoral list. Each party, electoral alliance or joint electoral list can nominate a maximum of 14 candidates in each electoral district. If, by virtue of a Government decision, 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. Hence the number of candidates in the Uusimaa electoral district in the 2003 Parliamentary elections was 33. (The total number of candidates in the 2003 Parliamentary elections was 2,029, of whom 27 were nominated by constituency associations.)
Municipal election candidates can be nominated by political parties and a minimum of 10 persons entitled to vote, who have established a constituency association. When nominating candidates two or more political parties have the right to form an electoral alliance by mutual agreement. Correspondingly, two or more constituency associations have the right to form a joint electoral list. A party, an electoral alliance or a joint electoral list can nominate at most one and a half times as many candidates as there are places for elected representatives. (The total number of candidates in the 2004 Municipal elections was 39,906, of whom 1,445 were nominated by constituency associations.)
European Parliamentary elections:
European Parliamentary election candidates can be nominated by registered political parties and constituency associations established by at least 2,000 persons entitled to vote. When nominating candidates two or more political parties have the right to form an electoral alliance by mutual agreement. Correspondingly, two or more constituency associations have the right to form a joint electoral list. Each party, electoral alliance or joint electoral list can nominate a maximum of 20 candidates in each country. (The total number of candidates in the 2004 European Parliament elections was 227. They were all nominated by political parties.)
Candidates may be nominated in Presidential elections by 1) a political party, from whose list of candidates at least one representative was elected in the most recent Parliamentary elections or 2) 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. Political parties and constituency associations may nominate the same candidate. (The total number of candidates in the 2000 Presidential elections was 7. They were all nominated by political parties.)
A party is an association which has been registered in the register of political parties maintained by the Ministry of Justice. Parties are voluntary associations whose main purpose is to influence the handling of the affairs of the state. Membership is usually gained through the party's local association.
In May 2005 the register of political parties comprised 19 political parties.
- Proportional elections
In proportional elections each party (or other group) gains representative seats in relation to the number of votes cast for it compared with the votes cast for other groups. If, for instance, a party gains 20 per cent of the votes cast, it should also gain 20 per cent of the available seats.
Presidential elections are not proportional, as the votes are cast for individual candidates and not for parties.
- Voting turnout
Voting percentage = proportion of voters of persons entitled to vote.
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.
In European Parliamentary elections a voting percentage is calculated also for citizens of other EU Member States.
In municipal elections the right to vote is not based on Finnish citizenship, but on municipality of residence (See Entitled to vote).
In municipal elections voting percentages by nationality of foreign voters are presented in addition to the total voting percentage: EU Member State, Iceland and Norway, Other country. (See also Advance voting percentage)
Official Statistics of Finland (OSF):
Municipal elections [e-publication].
ISSN=2323-1114. Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 8.7.2015].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/kvaa/kas_en.html