Skip to content

On the current 2012 municipal elections, for expats

Update: I got 362 votes in Helsinki, which means I can negotiate for a seat on a committee.

Is this the first time you’re hearing about the local or “communal” elections in Finland? No wonder. Officials, the media and running candidates have done a substandard job informing non-Finnish speakers in Finland. My article will mainly concern the elections in Helsinki but information here is useful regardless of where you live in Finland.

Did you know that you can vote in October 2012?

You have the right to vote in the municipal elections if you were 18 years of age by September 7th 2012 and you are:

  1. A citizen of a EU member state – or Iceland or Norway.
  2. OR You have officially lived in Finland for two years by Septemeber 7th, 2012.

You should have received an unintelligible letter in Finnish in the mail, looking like this:

If you got a letter like this, you're eligible to vote in the municipal election
If you got a letter like this, you’re eligible to vote in the municipal election
The letter is informing you of your right to vote and in which municipality it applies. It also informs you of the location of your assigned polling station if you’re planning to vote on election day. I however warmly recommend voting early, since this can be done at ANY Finnish polling station, in Finland or abroad. You can vote in advance between Oct. 17th and the 23rd, 2012. The Helsinki advance polling stations I usually favor are the large post office in Helsinki city centre or the one in Itäkeskus, open from 9 AM to 8 PM.

What are the current political issues in Helsinki?

  • Apotti/Epic is an antiquated healthcare IT system that municipalities plan to buy for 2 billion euros plus maintenance. With this kind of money we could easily employ every single software developer in Finland and produce a working system instead of the hopelessly broken one Accenture is trying to sell us.
  • The shortage of reasonably priced apartments is a major cause of homelessness and working class poverty in Helsinki. Various solutions have been proposed but conflicts of interest between the public good, car-ownership and business are proving to be a hard knot to unravel.
  • By continuing current low density urban planning policies, Uusimaa will become even more like an archipelago of desolate, poorly connected suburbs of Helsinki. Do you like the Finnish forests or agricultural landscapes? With current building codes you can forget about them. Kokoomus and SDP are generally favoring a car centric, sprawling suburban route..
  • We quickly need public transportation that’s reasonably priced and more efficient. Currently, many people favor cars simply because they have to. The prognosis for traffic fluidity as Helsinki grows are terrible: journey time are likely to double. Everyone who can’t afford to or doesn’t want to live in the old city center or near the railway stations will waste their lives on being stuck in traffic.
  • Corruption exists also in Finland, just outside of the public eye. Public decision-making in municipalities needs more transparency to overcome this.

The three largest parties (in order of size in the Helsinki city council)

  • The National Coalition Party (Kokoomus), 26 seats: centre-right, both conservative and liberal candidates. NCP is seen by many as favoring the wealthy, advocating car-ownership and tolerating corruption among its politicians. Kokoomus’ response to inefficient city bureaucracy is cutting resources and straining competent city workers.
  • The Green League (Vihreät), 21 seats: centrist-green liberal. I myself am a Green League candidate in Helsinki.
  • The Social Democrats (SDP, 16 seats): These guys protect the privileges of the folks employed by the city of Helsinki. Or at least of the older employees. In my own professional life I’ve encountered lots of unmotivated civil servants resisting change in the city bureaucracy, and there’s no way to get rid of them. The social democrats will do nothing in order to link city workers to normal union policies rather than absurd multi-year termination of employment contracts.

Other points
The nationalist conservative populist party ”True Finns” or ”Perussuomalaiset” headed by Timo Soini is expected to gain seats in the municipal councils around Finland, following their rise to a major party in Parliament in 2011. Though the party’s listed policies themselves aren’t outspokenly racist or anti-immigrant, many of their candidates and supporters are (as illustrated by this collection of Facebook and blog posts). Some of them have ties to neo-nazi organisations and other nationalist movements such as the Finnish Defence League or the Finnish Resistance Movement.

The author is a candidate number 1023 for the Helsinki City Council.

Be sure to write very clearly on the ballot. Thanks to columnist Melissa Mäntylä at City-lehti for this picture.
Published inIn English

5 Comments

  1. Dear Lilja,

    ”The nationalist conservative populist party ”True Finns” or ”Perussuomalaiset” headed by Timo Soini is expected to gain seats in the municipal councils around Finland, following their rise to a major party in Parliament in 2011. Though the party’s listed policies themselves aren’t outspokenly racist or anti-immigrant, many of their candidates and supporters are (as illustrated by this collection of Facebook and blog posts). Some of them have ties to neo-nazi organisations and other nationalist movements such as the Finnish Defence League or the Finnish Resistance Movement.”

    As you are campaigning in Helsinki, I expect you to name those neo-nazi candidates of my party in Helsinki or correct your post, which is equivalent to a libel.

    Any readers who think the Perussuomalaiset / True Finns party is a racist movement, should check the facts and note that we have several candidates with foreign background available for voting here in Helsinki:

    600 El-Khouri, Elie, yritysneuvoja, rakennusinsinööri
    619 Jovanovic, Zorana, rakennusinsinööri
    621 Kaasik, Allar, muusikko, opettaja
    660 Mustafa, Arian, opiskelija
    700 Utter, Muro, postityöntekijä
    713 Xia, Selene, tutkija
    714 Yang, Erlin, PhD

    Let one of them tell herself what she thinks about the issue:

    http://www.katsomo.fi/?progId=147925

    The other parties you discuss here might also disagree with your views regarding their agenda.

    Best Regards,

    Nuutti Hyttinen
    LL.B., M.Sc. (Econ.), project manager
    Perussuomalaiset rp
    Candidate #613 in Helsinki

    • Dear sir; please use big words like libel sparingly like a grown-up would.
      In your position I would strongly encourage your local party council to be more selective about their candidates.

      After you have the issue of violent whackos weeded out, we can have a serious discussion about politics. I know there are a number of sensible candidates in PS as well, but the extremists overshadow them.

      New challengers such as your party, are most welcome in the political scene for obvious reasons related to refreshing the political atmosphere. I myself am originally from a party with less experience, not much unlike yours. I wish you good luck on your journey.

      Note to readers: This Google search result is only an aggregation of vile stuff said publicly by Helsinki Perussuomalaiset candidates on Facebook etc., as picked up by the Kunnollisvaalit blog. (Note the Helsinki, PS entries). It’s in Finnish of course. Kunnollisvaalit is doing a great job, please contact them and express demand for a briefing of their site in English.

  2. Tatu Ahponen Tatu Ahponen

    Apparently there are only four parties in the Helsinki city council.

  3. Jari Pakkala Jari Pakkala

    Hei Lilja,

    Olisin mahdollisesti äänestämässä sinua, mutta yksi asia minua häiritsee erittäin pahasti. Miksi olet ollut ehdolla HOK-Elannon vaaleissa?

    Olen itse Vihreänä todella paljon vastaan elintarvikekaupan keskittymistä liki monopoliasemassa oleville jättiketjuille. Olen yksityisen kauppiaan ja pientuottajien puolella. Kuinka huolissaan olet esim. ABC-ketjun saamasta jalansijasta maakunnissa, joka monien väitteiden mukaan johtuu muunmuassa korruptiosta kaavoituspäätöksissä. Miten punnitsit esimerkiksi näitä asioita asettuessasi ehdolle ja olisiko HOK-Elannon etujen ajaminen sinusta moraalisesti oikein?

    Haluatko todella olla mukana tukemassa tätä toimintaa ja kaupan monopolisoitumista muutamalle isolle toimijalle?

    • Olen kanssasi täysin samaa mieltä ja olen erittäin huolissani ruokakaupan keskittymisestä. Olen asiasta kirjoittanutkin. Motiii asettua ehdolle oli avata osuuskaupan päätöksentekoa julkisuuteen vähentääkseni sen mahdollisuuksia keplotella itselleen markkina-asemaa pienten toimijoiden kustannuksella. Reilu peli voidaan pakottaa yrityksissä vain sisältäpäin.

Vastaa