Parliamentary elections, quality description

1. Relevance of statistical information

1.1 Summary of the information content of statistics

Statistics Finland produces Finland's official statistics from parliamentary elections containing key data on the following:

  • Votes gained by parties and their proportions divided into votes gained during advance voting and votes gained on the election day by constituency, municipality and voting district.

  • Votes gained by candidates and shares according to gender by party, constituency, municipality and voting district

  • 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 Statistics Finland's free database, the StatFin online service starting from 1983 (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. If the third Sunday in April is Easter Sunday, the election day is the Sunday preceding Easter.

Legislation

With the revision of election legislation in 1998 all provisions on elections were collected into one single act, the Election 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 and at www.finlex.fi/en/ , Election Act (714/1998)).

Amendment to the Election Act (939/2017), which allowed postal voting for Finnish citizens not resident in Finland and other voters staying abroad at the time of the elections, was confirmed on 14 December 2017 and it came into force on 1 November 2018. Voting by post can be used for the first time in the 2019 Parliamentary elections.

Government proposal for an act on amendment to the Election Act (HE 101/2017).

The main principles of holding elections

Elections in Finland are held according to the following principles:

  • The elections are direct. Electors (those entitled to vote) vote direct for the persons 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. By contrast, the information on whether a person entitled to vote has exercised his/her right, i.e. actually voted, is not covered by the secrecy of the 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 takes place in front of election authorities. An exception is voting by post that does not take place in front of election authorities. In postal voting, the voter needs to have two witnesses who attest, by their signatures, that voting has taken place in such a manner that election secrecy has been preserved and electoral freedom respected while voting.

  • 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 advance voting, or 2) on the Election Day. Amendment to the Election Act (939/2017), which allows voting by post for Finnish citizens not resident in Finland and other voters staying abroad at the time of the elections came into force on 1 November 2018. Voting by post is used for the first time in the 2019 Parliamentary elections.

Eligibility

All persons entitled to vote and who are not incompetent, i.e. under guardianship can stand as candidates in parliamentary elections. A military official cannot, however, be elected as a member of parliament. In addition, the following high officials cannot act as members of parliament: Chancellor of Justice of the Government, the Parliamentary Ombudsman, Justices of the Supreme Court and of the Supreme Administrative Court nor the Prosecutor General. They can stand as candidates but if they are elected they must resign from their office.

Eligibility in the parliamentary elections is independent of the candidate’s municipality of residence, so the candidate can stand as candidate in any constituency, however only in one constituency.

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 constituency association founded by at least 100 enfranchised persons in the same constituency (in Mainland Finland) 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 constituency association and in only one constituency.

In the constituency of Åland, a constituency association founded by at least 30 enfranchised persons has the right to nominate a candidate in parliamentary elections.

In the constituency of Åland, the joint electoral list can have at most four candidates.

The candidate application, as well as the notification of an electoral alliance and of a joint electoral list, must be given to the Electoral District Committee 40 days before the elections (5 March 2019)

Compilation of a combined list of candidates 31 days before the elections (14 March 2019) and entering the candidates and their ages on the day of the elections and personal identity codes in the national candidate register.

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.

Calculating of election results Counting the advance votes

As a rule, counting of advance votes starts at 3 pm on the actual election Sunday. The count may be brought forward in large electoral districts; the earliest possible starting time being 12 noon. The objective is to finish the counting of advance votes by 8 pm, from which time onwards preliminary data may be released.

Counting the votes cast on the election day

When the doors of the polling stations have been closed at 8 pm the election boards begins a preliminary count of the votes. The board opens the ballot box, counts the ballots within it, and notes down the votes of the candidates in a particular election protocol. Immediately thereafter the board informs the central election committee of the municipality of the votes of the candidates, i.e. of the election results in the voting district.

The central election committee again enters the results in the central calculation system in the Election Information System of the Ministry of Justice. Finally, the election board seals the ballots in a parcel and delivers it to the election committee before 9 am on Monday morning.

Determination of the election results

The so-called d’Hondt method is used to determine the election results. Thus, in the first stage of the calculation the total number of votes of each group, i.e.:

  • A (single) party not belonging to an electoral alliance,

  • An electoral alliance,

  • A joint list, and

  • A constituency association not belonging to a joint list,

is counted.

Parties which have formed an electoral alliance are thus treated as a single group, as are constituency associations on a joint list. In the second stage of the calculation the candidates in each group are ranked in order of their personal number of votes.

In the third stage each candidate is accorded a comparative index, i.e. the candidate who has received most personal votes is accorded an index which equals the total number of votes of the group, the second best candidate half of that, the third best a third, the fourth best a fourth, and so on.

In the final stage , all candidates are listed in order from best to worst according to their comparative index, and as many members of parliament are chosen from this list as are to be elected from the constituency.

Communication of preliminary results

The preliminary result of the elections is clear already on the evening of the election day. When the doors of the polling stations close, the result of advance voting that has been transferred to the election data system at 8 pm are published. Then the preliminary calculations of the election boards are transferred to the election data system as they become completed during the evening of the election day. Usually, the preliminary result is clear by 11 pm at the latest.

Control calculation and confirmation of election results

The Electoral District Committees start the control calculation of ballots on the Monday following the election day at 9 am. The results of the control calculation must be finished on the following Wednesday at 6 pm at which time the Electoral District Committees confirm the final election results in the constituencies and write the proxies for the persons that have been elected as members of parliament.

Constituencies

For the purpose of parliamentary elections, the country is divided into 13 constituencies based on regions. In parliamentary elections the seats in parliament are allocated to the constituencies according to a Government decision.

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.

Apart from the constituency of Åland, the allocation of seats among constituencies is made based on the number of those Finnish citizens who according to the data of the Population Information System have a municipality of residence in Finland in the constituency in question on the last day of the sixth calendar month preceding the election day.

The allocation, where changes in the division of municipalities entering into force at the beginning of the election year are taken into consideration, is made by dividing the number of Finnish citizens in each constituency by the total number of Finnish citizens in constituencies and by multiplying the figure obtained by 199. Each constituency will have the number of seats corresponding to the integer shown by the calculation. If all seats do not become allocated in this manner, the remaining seats are divided among constituencies in the order shown by the size of the decimals of the figures in the calculation. (21 Dec. 2007/1263)

The number of seats in parliament will change for two constituencies (electoral districts) in the Parliamentary elections of 14 April 2019. The constituency of Uusimaa gains one seat and the constituency of Savo-Karelia loses one seat. The figure derived from the Population Information System on 31 October 2018. On 8 November 2018, the Government issued a decree on the allocation of seats in parliament among constituencies. Seats in Parliamentary elections 2019 are proportionally divided as follows:

  • 01 Helsinki constituency 22

  • 02 Uusimaa constituency 36 (+1)

  • 03 Varsinais-Suomi constituency 17

  • 04 Satakunta constituency 8

  • 06 Häme constituency 14

  • 07 Pirkanmaa constituency 19

  • 08 Southeast Finland constituency 17

  • 09 Savo-Karelia constituency 15 (-1),

  • 10 Vaasa constituency 16

  • 11 Central Finland constituency 10

  • 12 Oulu constituency 18

  • 13 Lapland constituency 7

  • 05 Åland constituency 1

Changes in constituencies and consolidations of municipalities

Changes in constituencies and municipalities and consolidations of municipalities are presented on the website of Parliamentary elections, in the Classifications section http://www.stat.fi/til/evaa/luo_en.html .

The division into constituencies was changed in the act on amending the Election Act (271/2013) that entered into force on 1 September 2013 and the act was applied for the first time in the Parliamentary elections 2015 (19 April 2015). In the amendment of the Election Act, the constituencies of Kymi (08) and South Savo (09) were combined into the new Southeast Finland constituency (08) and the constituencies of North Savo (10) and North Karelia (11) were combined into the new Savo-Karelia constituency (09).

Municipalities are placed into constituencies according to the constituency division in force. At the beginning of 2019, the number of municipalities is 295 in Mainland Finland and 16 in Åland.

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 in 2018 and the population of the municipality in 2017. The definition of urban settlements is produced yearly by the Finnish Environment Institute.

  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.

Candidates have been nominated in the Parliamentary elections 2019 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 (VIHR)

  • The Left Alliance (VAS)

  • The Finns Party (PS)

  • The Communist Party of Finland (SKP)

  • Communist Workers Party (Finland) - For Peace and Socialism (KTP)

  • Liberal Party – Freedom for Choice (LIBE)

  • Pirate Party of Finland (Piratepty.)

  • Liberal Party - Freedom for Choice (LIBE)

  • Animal Justice Party of Finland (EOP)

  • Citizens’ Party (KP)

  • Feminist Party (FP)

  • Independence Party (IP)

  • Blue Reform (Sin)

  • Finnish People First (SKE)

  • Seven Star Movement (STL)

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 Oyj. Statistics Finland collects data with a separate form on advance voting from municipalities that do not use an electronic voting register (municipalities in the constituency of Åland).

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 and Social Statistics department as the producer of election statistics (Statistics Finland’s Rules of Procedure, TK-00-954-18).

2. Methodological description of survey

The statistics are based on total data. The basic data of the statistics are based on the Ministry of Justice’s election data system consisting of five subsystems. They include:

  1. Basic data and geographical information system that includes, for example, data on constituencies, municipalities and voting districts as well as election authorities (polling station register, which include data on general advance polling stations and polling stations on the election day);

  2. Data on parties and candidates (candidate register) in which the following data on each candidate in the elections are entered: name, candidate number, profession, municipality of residence, party/constituency association that has nominated the candidate, and personal identity code (14 March 2019). The data on candidates also include the party register;

  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 (27 February 2019) prior to the election day. The voting register is formed separately for each election. 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 (22 February 2019) prior to the election day. The voting register gains legal force at 12:00 noon on the 12th day (2 April 2019) prior to the election day. The voting register is in use in the advance polling stations and every person that votes in advance is marked in the register. After the advance voting, electoral rolls for the polling stations on the election day are printed from the register. The voting register can, however, also be used in the polling stations instead of the electoral rolls on the election day.

  4. A centralised result calculation system to which the electoral district committees and the central election committees submit their results of the elections;

  5. The result service system (statistical and information service system) 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 persons entitled to vote, candidates and elected MPs

In connection with the election statistics, a background analysis is produced on persons entitled to vote, candidates nominated by the parties and elected representatives. The population of persons entitled to vote is based on the voting register established on 27 February 2019 (data drawn from the Population Information System on 22 February 2019) and the candidates on the candidate register of the Ministry of Justice. The background data on the persons combined with these registers are based on statistical data from Statistics Finland such as population, family and employment statistics, and the Register of Completed Education and Degrees. Of the persons entitled to vote only those resident in Finland are included in the review.

The analysis describes the persons entitled to vote, candidates and elected representatives with regard to certain variables. The background data usually relate to the years 2016 to 2017. More recent data than that have not been available. The person's age is the age on the day of the election in full years.

The background variables used in the analysis are described in the following.

Constituency

The constituency used in the analysis is for the candidates the one for which the person stands as a candidate. For those entitled to vote the constituency is based on the information drawn from the Population Register Centre's Population Information System 51 days prior to the day of the election.

Foreign background

Foreign background is examined by means of two variables, that is, native language or origin. Persons whose native language is not Finnish, Swedish or Sami are regarded by language as coming from a foreign background. Persons whose both parents or the only parent were born abroad are regarded by origin as coming from a foreign background. The data are from 2017.

Main type of activity

The concept of main type of activity describes the nature of the person's economic activity. The population is divided by their main type of activity to the active and inactive population. These groups can be further divided into sub-groups. The classification is based on the person's activity during the last week of the year. The main type of activity is based on data derived from different registers.

The classification of main type of activity is as follows:

  • Employed

  • Unemployed

  • 0 to 14-year-olds

  • Students, pupils

  • Pensioners

  • Conscripts, conscientious objectors

  • Other inactive population

The information used in the analysis describes the person's activity during the last week of 2017.

Family status

In this analysis the population is divided into the following groups by family status:

  • Parent of a married/cohabiting family

  • Single parent

  • Childless couple

  • Living alone

  • Child living at home

  • Other

Parents of a married/cohabiting family include all married and cohabiting persons and partners in a registered partnership, who have their own and/or spouse's children living at home. Childless couples are married/cohabiting persons and partners in a registered partnership who have no children. People living with their own or adopted parent/s having the status of a child are defined as the youth living at home. The group "Other" includes persons without a family living together with others (for example, a mother/father living with the family of their child), homeless persons and institutional population. Persons living alone without a family belong to the group "Living alone".

The data on the person's family status are from the year 2017.

Number of children

In the analysis the number of children used is the number of the person's biological and adopted children. The data are from the year 2017.

Level of education

Those with basic level education have at most nine years of education. They have qualifications from primary schools, middle schools or comprehensive schools.

Those with upper secondary level education have 11 to 12 years of education. These qualifications include matriculation examination, vocational qualifications attained in one to three years and initial vocational qualifications.

Lowest level tertiary education lasts two to three years after upper secondary level education. Examples of these qualifications include the qualification of a technician engineer, diploma in business and administration, and diploma in nursing, which are not university of applied sciences degrees.

Completion of lower-degree level tertiary education requires three to four years of full-time studies after upper secondary level education. Lower-degree level tertiary education comprises polytechnic degrees and lower university degrees.

Completion of higher-degree level tertiary education requires as a rule five to six years of full-time studies after upper secondary level education. Higher-degree level tertiary education leads to master's degrees and specialist's degrees in medicine, for instance.

Completion of doctorate or equivalent level tertiary education requires independent research work or doctorate theses fit for publication. The degrees are scientific licentiate and doctorate degrees.

The data on education are derived from Statistics Finland's Register of Completed Education and Degrees. The data used in the analysis concern the year 2017.

Disposable money income

Disposable money income includes monetary income items and benefits in kind connected to employment relationships. Money income does not include imputed income items, of which the main one is imputed dwelling income. When current transfers paid are deducted from gross money income, the remaining income is the disposable money income.

The data are from the year 2017.

Median income

When income earners are put in the order of size by income, median income is the income of the middle income earner. An equal number of income earners remains on both sides of the middle income receiver. Median income is not as sensitive to extreme observations as mean income.

Income subject to state taxation

With certain exceptions, all income received as money or a benefit of monetary value is taxable. Certain social benefits, allowances and compensations are not taxable. These are such as child benefits, housing allowances and income support. Taxable are neither grants nor awards received from the general government.

3. Correctness and accuracy of data

The basic data of the election statistics derive from 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 results can 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 the elected, whereby even their mutual order may change.

5. Accessibility and transparency/clarity of data

The first data, or preliminary statistics are published on the Internet, in the StatFin service and on the statistics pages 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 statistics pages 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 confirmed data corresponding to the preliminary statistics are released on the statistics pages and the StatFin databases are updated.

Key election results on Parliamentary elections are published in the election map service.

6. Comparability of statistics

The municipal division 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 the 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 exhaustive information about different elections and the national candidate register and election result data on its web pages (www.vaalit.fi). The statistics on advance voters published by the Ministry of Justice differ from Statistics Finland’s statistics on 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 2019, nomination of candidates. Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Sami Fredriksson 029 551 2696, Kaija Ruotsalainen 029 551 3599, vaalit@stat.fi

Director in charge: Jari Tarkoma


Updated 5.4.2019

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Parliamentary elections [e-publication].
ISSN=1799-6279. Nomination of candidates and background analysis of candidates 2019, Parliamentary elections, quality description . Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 23.1.2020].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/evaa/2019/01/evaa_2019_01_2019-04-05_laa_001_en.html