English-speaking Aalto community member: The municipal elections are coming soon. You can vote, and your vote makes a difference!
Wait, what? I can vote in Finland?
YES! International members of the Finnish community most certainly can vote! There are a couple conditions, though:
You have lived in Finland uninterruptedly for 2 years.
You are registered as a resident at the municipality where you intend to vote 51 days before election day.
You have turned 18 by election day.
But can your vote make a difference?
Finland is such a small country, that candidates get through with very small amounts of votes. When campaigners in Finland say “every vote counts” in Finland, this is quite literally true. During the last municipal elections, 457 votes were enough to get a True Finns candidate elected in Helsinki. In Turku, 135 votes were enough to get a Left Alliance candidate through, and 132 were enough to get a member of the National Coalition Party through in Lappeenranta. As little as 96 votes in Vaasa got a Left Alliance candidate elected to office. Not only can you make a difference, but we wager that if you convinced your friends to vote, you could make all the difference! (And, in case you are not yet eligible to vote, you could still inspire someone sitting on the fence to cast a vote on your behalf.)
Another important thing to consider is that while elections may often look like a popularity contest between crooked politicians, and policy making a series of closed-door non-transparent deals, especially on the municipal level, this does not hold true. In a small country like Finland, politicians are people with regular occupations who are typically motivated by their own vision of what needs to be changed in their own neighbourhood. These are typically things such as:
- Public transport, bicycle routes, and pedestrian walkways
- Public health services (for example, did you know that the city of Espoo offers free contraception to people under 25?)
- The location of clinics
- Library services
- Recycling centres
- Construction of affordable housing
These, and many other things that affect municipal residents are on the agenda. You may not like the political process and politicians, but the matters on the table genuinely are matters that have an impact on your life.
Whose future is it anyway?
We, at AYY, want to encourage students and young people to vote, and we would like future voters to become familiar with the issues that impact them directly. At the same time, we recognize that it is far from inclusive to tell members of the international community to vote, and then direct them towards information with a “Sorry, only in Finnish” disclaimer. So, we’ve collected a few materials for our international community to work with.
To give you more of an opportunity to make up your mind on your own terms, we are arranging an election panel in English together with Moniheli on May the 26th, from 4-5:30 p.m. Environmental issues affect young voters disproportionately, which is why we have chosen the environment as the topic of the panel. If you are interested in challenging politicians to make the right environmental choices, please click on the link to the event to apply for a seat in the live internet audience! There is also a Finnish panel by World Student Union on May 18th at 4pm.
Fon Krairiksh, Policy Specialist, International Affairs
Tiina Pajukari, Board Member, Social Policy, Elections, Well-Being, Sustainability
AYY's goals for the municipal elections https://www.ayy.fi/en/dont-dream-it-vote-for-it-aalto-university-student-union-encourages-young-people-from-espoo-to-vote
Kaikkien vaalit election panel tour link https://www.moniheli.fi/uutiset-news/kaikkien-vaalit-kiertueen-ohjelma-o/
Youth election compass: https://www.alli.fi/tapahtumat/nuorten-vaalikone#/?lng=en
Information on voting by the ministry of justice: https://vaalit.fi/en/frontpage
Who can vote? https://www.facebook.com/751482204891154/videos/209200907208619