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The road to the polls: Confessions of an excited voter

April 4, 2011

I have to admit I am not terribly interested in politics except when policy decisions may affect me and my family personally. I am quite thankful actually that Helsinigin Sanomat’s International Edition and YLE News in English do a pretty good job of keeping folks up to date on the political front.

My knowledge of political issues is shallow at best and I possess a passing knowledge of many issues in the Finnish, Canadian and global political arenas. I would most certainly get a good butt whooping in any political discussion for lack of knowledge – it doesn’t mean I don’t have opinions though. I suppose I could do myself a favour and become better informed, but then it would be information overload and frankly there are not enough hours in the day.

The right to vote, however, believe it or not is very important to me. Finally, after many years I can cast a vote in a federal election because I am now a Finnish citizen.*

*Two things to consider here:

  • As a Canadian living abroad for more than five years, I have lost my right to vote in elections at any level (municipal, provincial, federal). I have communicated my displeasure with this to authorities in Canada and have decided “why bother?” – anything I try to do on this front will be met with a non-response. End of story.
  • Permanent residents of Finland can vote in municipal elections (which I have done because I became permanent resident of Finland in 2006).

Finland’s electoral system is based on proportional representation, a smart system in my opinion because to me it means your vote counts a little more. I won’t get into how it works, you can read more about elections in Finland here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finnish_parliament#Parliamentary_elections.

What is great about Finland’s eligibility to vote, however, is that you can have been a Finnish expat living abroad for more than 20 years, but you still have the right to vote in Finnish elections, thus enabling people with a vested interest in their home country to voice their opinion through the ballots cast.

And I will try and search for a suitable candidate through the well-known “vaalikone” (Election machine) on various media sites (YLE, MTV3, Helsingin Sanomat). I plan on trying them all. Thank goodness for Google Translate because it means I can make a more informed decision this time – a decision I am very much looking forward to making.

Attached is the product of some enthusiastic SDP supporter tied around a light post in Espoo. (The party depicted in this picture is not necessarily endorsed by yours truly…)

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. anonymous permalink
    April 6, 2011 11:51 am

    Many people think that you elect a person in Finnish elections.
    This is only partially true. While you do vote for a candidate, the vote goes to the party and the number of votes for a single candidate only determines the order within the party.
    So, it is more important to first find a party that suits you rather than a candidate that suits you.

    Furthermore, parties tend to vote in blocs within parliament. Thus, even if you vote e.g. for a socialist in Kokoomus, not only have you helped the other N party candidates with opposing views, the party line will be against your candidate’s opinions and he/she will be under constant pressure to vote with the rest of the party (so he/she probably will do just that).
    That said, any left-leaning political message from a Kokoomus candidate is pure lip service.

  2. April 6, 2011 11:59 am

    Thanks for putting words to the process anonymous… I have actually not focused so much on the candidate but which party’s candidates are showing up in the top 10 as far as the vaalikone goes. The results have been quite surprising thus far…

    The electoral system in Canada is different because you *are* voting for a person who is attached to a party and if your preferred candidate doesn’t get elected in your riding then too bad. The person who garners the most votes is your parliamentary representative for the duration… It is based on the same system as the UK.

  3. the same permalink
    April 9, 2011 1:17 pm

    It is not a bad idea to also read up the parties’ and candidates’ programs for this election and in general.
    None of the vaalikone’s (can you think of a translation?) cover more than a couple of issues, so the general thrust of parties’ and candidates’ opinions may not be represented there even if you look at all of them.
    It is also fairly telling what are the issues a party or a candidate does not talk about or can not form a coherent, informed or well-founded opinions on.

    I suppose voting history would also be useful to see. While the information is technically available, it is not at all easy to find it or to coax it to any useful form.

  4. yet again permalink
    April 18, 2011 5:45 pm

    Still excited?

    • April 19, 2011 1:41 pm

      After I have had a day to digest the results… I have to say I was pleased to be able to vote, but not so excited about the results. Gimme some time to put it into words – I will have something to say about it… 😛

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