Representatives of Finland’s political parties have been invited to the Lahti community high school to court the votes of immigrants by outlining their options for influencing their communities by participating in next month’s municipal elections.
Organisers hope to attract immigrants as well as others who might want to spread the message of political participation.
Sitting councilors on the Lahti municipal council are also expected to discuss their party election platforms and their immigrant policies.
Voting by immigrants in Finland’s local government elections has been significantly less active than in other Nordic countries. Anne Saloranta of the Lahti city Social and Health department said this seems to be due to a lack of information.
“They don’t know about their right to vote. Another reason could be that they have been living in Finland for such a short time that they haven’t yet developed an interest in politics. Or then they just don’t know which party to vote for,” she speculated.
Information about election campaigns and the election is often available in Finnish, which poses its own challenges for immigrants. Saloranta said that information about local decision making just isn’t available in the right form.
“I think there isn’t (information in other languages). This year there have been similar requests from different parts of the country. People are finally waking up to this issue,” she said.
The election session for immigrants is being organised for the southern Finland advisory board for ethnic relations, the Ministry of Justice, and other regional organizations.
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