Finland’s main parties are stepping up their efforts to recruit as many candidates as possible after the county council elections in just over two months.
Voters will go on January 23, 2022 to vote for members of the Provincial Assembly who are responsible for providing social and health services.
See Yle News’ very simple election guide here for more information on the upcoming vote.
Yle asked the party secretary of each parliamentary party how the recruitment process for candidates has progressed so far, most reported "steady flow" willing candidates.
All major parties also announced that they would aim for full candidate lists in all 21 welfare areas, which would mean about 1,700 candidates per party.
The deadline for submitting lists of candidates is 14 December.
Currently, the country’s two most popular parties – the opposition party (NCP) and the prime minister Sanna MarinSDP already has more than a thousand candidates, while Perussuomalainen and Keskusta already have about a thousand candidates.
Party secretaries from the NKP, the Basic Finns and the Center all said they were confident they would reach the target of 1,700 candidates, while the SDP predicted that they would achieve it. "at least 95%".
"In Kainuu, for example, filling the list will be a tough task, as more candidates will have to be found than in the municipal elections. On the other hand, larger regions have more candidates than they can accommodate," Party Secretary of the SDP Antton Rönnholm told Yle.
Among other parties, the Left Alliance said it had recruited nearly a thousand candidates so far, while the governing coalition partner, the Greens, has about 700 names on the list.
Both the Left Alliance and the Greens told Yle that they did not expect complete lists, especially in smaller welfare areas.
Most small parties have recruited a few hundred candidates each. The Swedish People’s Party (SPP), for example, has about 250 candidates, which is quite close to the party’s target of 300.
Quality does not matter
In municipal elections, the number of candidates put on the lists by parties can be a significant determinant of the turnout, and each party follows the general hypothesis that the more candidates, the better.
However, the logic of the regional elections will be different, as parties will have less pressure to fill the lists than in the municipal elections.
For example, in some densely populated areas, the maximum size of the list is an even greater constraint because not everyone who wants to stand as a candidate can do so. Therefore, the quality of the candidates is a key challenge for the parties.
"We aim to get candidates on the list that cover a different gender, age, profession and regional distribution," downtown party secretary Riikka Pirkkalainen said.
The parties need both well-known politicians and social, health and first aid experts on their lists.
Another key aspect is the strategic distribution of candidates. For example, a candidate for a large city may collect more votes than a candidate for a small municipality.
However, the voter should also be offered a local option in as many municipalities as possible.
"We need young, old and working age people. There is a need for social and health care professionals, those working in the business world and entrepreneurs," NCP Party Secretary Kristiina Kokko said.
18-year-old politician: These are “elections for all”
Each party also mentioned one fundamental challenge in recruiting candidates: it is not easy to get the youngest age groups involved in politics.
Especially in the case of provincial elections, such a vote is the first of its kind in Finland and the role of county councils is still unclear to many.
"How do we get young people involved in activities that aren’t always so nice? It is often a matter of dealing with difficult and controversial issues," Party Secretary of Basic Finns Arto Luukkanen said.
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However, Florenta Dushi, A candidate of the Swedish People’s Party in South Porvoo, believes he knows the answer. Although he is only 18 years old, this is Dush’s second election, as he was previously nominated in the municipal elections in June.
"Sote [social and healthcare services] things are everyone’s business. Welfare areas decide what kind of services the area’s residents receive and how they get access to treatment. This is everyone’s election. It is important that young people participate and make their voices heard," He said he added that the provision of mental health services, for example, should be particularly important for younger people.
"Young people discuss and have opinions on these issues. Young people are interested, but they need to be encouraged to get involved in politics," Dushi said.
Source: The Nordic Page