The parliamentary election is coming up in Finland on April 17th. Finland’s 200-member Eduskunta is selected every four years using a direct proportional system. It makes sense that the election is to be held on a Sunday between the hours of 9AM-8PM when citizens can plan ahead and focus on the election at hand. Early voting begins on April 6th and lasts for several days. As a result, 68-70% turnout is the norm. In the States, you’re lucky to make it to the polling station on a Tuesday after a long day at work.
In the coming weeks and days there will sure to be serious and not-so-serious talks about hot topics such as the EU bailouts, cost cuts, immigration reform, education, retirement etc. As a first time voter in these elections, I find it odd to be able to have the chance to select any candidate from all the parties involved. I’m so accustomed to having only two major parties that dominate the scene. In Finland, there are 17 officially registered parties. I find it a welcome challenge.
This scenario is quite a treat for those seeking a true representative democracy and a real political discussion. Every leftist, centrist, right-leaning whim, desire and passion can be found in these parties. Then you have to dig deeper, for inside each party are candidates that have opposing views on key issues. Recently, I took the “vaalikone”, election machine hosted by Helsingin Sanomat, that is supposedly able to help any voter to match up with candidates of similar opinions. The real trick for me is trying to decipher whom from the Top 10 recommended candidates I should research. I was granted 5 different parties from a variety of political spectrums, making even my task a bit more challenging.
Needless to say, the election is something I really look forward to. Albeit new and refreshing, and somewhat confusing, I find it is now my responsibility and duty to vote. Exercising my right to vote and sharing my opinions about Finland’s political climate and the electoral process with my friends and family are important to me. Now let’s see what happens on April 17th. It will be interesting to see how much the current government will change. The majority government now includes the Centre Party, National Coalition Party, Green League and Swedish People’s Party of Finland. The populist, isolationist True Finns party is expected to bring in more than 15% of the vote. (wtf!) Times certainly have changed, but it is quite refreshing to be part of this smooth process expecially when outside Finland there exists some political turmoil, especially in the Middle East.