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Municipal politicians battle for spots on local councils

October 16, 2008
 
Finland will be holding municipal elections on October 26 and the jockeying for positions began long ago.
 
Advanced voting began yesterday with some 143,000 people casting their votes, and while early predictions chalked voter turnout to about 60%, YLE reported that a survey carried out for Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities (www.kunnat.net), which predicts voter turnout will be about 73%. The three biggest parties in Finland include the Social Democratic Party (SDP), the Centre Party and the National Coalition Party and while they hold the most seats in the Finnish parliament, my understanding is that Green League politicians have made significant inroads into municipal politics in Finland. Let’s see how it plays out this time around.
 
Here is some basic background: http://www.yle.fi/news/background/id103634.html and here is some information from Virtual Finland on the elections in 2004: http://virtual.finland.fi/netcomm/news/showarticle.asp?intNWSAID=29631&LAN=ENG
 
Of course the electoral system is different here and from what I understand is based on proportional representation. The one thing that I really don’t like about municipal politics is that members of Finnish parliament are allowed to run as candidates. I mean, don’t they have enough to do with the national affairs of the country than to (what I think is) meddle in municipal politics? Not only that, MP’s can run in elections in cities and towns where they no longer reside! For example Finance Minister Jyrki Katainen is running for a spot on the municipal council in Siilinjärvi where he sat on council in the 1990’s. Not only do I think it is unfair, it does the towns in question no favour by having an absentee member on city council. I mean when on earth does Katainen have time to travel to Siilinjärvi? He’s supposed to be running the financial affairs of the Finnish State! In Canada, a job as a member of parliament, provincial legislature or city council is often a full-time paid job. So I wonder where these Finnish MP’s find the time to dedicate their energy to municipal politics?!
 
On another note, I can tell you that as a permanent resident of Finland, I am eligible to vote in municipal elections, but that is as far as my right to vote goes. I have been away from Canada for so long that I am no longer eligible to vote in elections of any kind – municipal, provincial and federal. (Canada held a federal election on October 14, with the Conservative Party taking another minority government. If you’re interested, see more at www.cbc.ca)
Here in Finland, only Finnish citizens have rights to vote in parliament and presidential elections.
 
I’ll be heading to the polls on October 26, since this is the only place I have a chance to exercise my political rights.
 
Happy voting! Umbrella
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