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#useyourvote: Join the Yle News local election debate

The Yle News #useyourvote election debate features candidates from each major political party, asking them in English about their plans ahead of municipal elections on 9 April.

Video: Municipal Elections 2017
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The Yle News #useyourvote election debate is streamed live online via Yle Areena, yle.fi/news and on Facebook. Video: Yle

English language material on the local elections can be hard to come by, but this year Yle News is hosting an election debate on 22 March in which we'll ask candidates from each of Finland's major political parties to explain their positions.

The debate will be streamed live on Facebook and on Yle Areena, and will be recorded and available to watch afterwards on both platforms. Proceedings will start at 2pm, will be hosted by our presenters Denise Wall and Eddy Hawkins, and will last approximately 75 minutes. You can stay up to date with the debate by joining the Facebook event.

The election is scheduled for 9 April, with advance voting from 29 March to 4 April. Some 17,000 candidates are running for election to city councils in Finland's 311 municipalities, and some vital issues are at stake.

How will local government respond to central government changes to early years education and daycare? Should local councils focus on protecting the environment or zoning new areas for housing? Should transport policy favour private cars or plough money into cheaper public transport?

Low Turnout

All these issues and more are at stake in the local elections, but one constituency in Finland is less likely than others to exercise their right to vote: non-Finnish citizens.

Foreigners have historically recorded low turnout in Finnish elections, even though most permanent residents of Finland are eligible to vote. In the last election in 2012 overall turnout was 58.3 percent, while turnout among eligible foreigners was just 19.6 percent.

That poor turnout might well be down to a lack of information. We're aiming to encourage English-language political discussion across the country, and our debate participants have committed to trying to engage with voters regardless of their language background.

Our debate will feature:

Ozan Yanar, Green Party

Currently a Green Party MP, Yanar is running for a seat on Helsinki City Council. Aged just 29, he specialises in economics and has been featured in a number of lists of top European leaders including the Forbes '30 under 30' ranking.

Abdirahim Hussein, SDP

A Somali-born media personality and politician, 'Husu' chairs the Moniheli network of multicultural organisations and has presented the popular 'Ali ja Husu' radio show on Yle's Radio Puhe. A former chair of the Helsinki chapter of the Centre Party's youth wing, Husu switched to the SDP in 2016.

Elisa Tarkiainen, NCP

Tarkiainen is currently a special advisor to Finance Minister Petteri Orpo covering European Affairs. She's running for city council and Helsinki, and says she wants Helsinki to blaze a trail as a pioneer in urbanisation.

Olga Zamurovic, Left Alliance

An actor and director, Olga Zamurovic is running in Helsinki on a Left Alliance ticket. Zamurovic is an advocate for human rights, women’s rights, gay rights and equality issues and she is currently studying human rights law.

Silja Borgarsdottir Sandelin, SPP

Sandelin is a vice-president of her party and is running for a seat in Helsinki while completing her studies at Åbo Akademi in Turku. She’s also a member of the HIFK handball team, Finland’s reigning national champions.

Erlin Yang, Finns Party

Yang moved to Finland 20 years ago and has held various positions including researcher at Helsinki University, lecturer at Aalto University, entrepreneur, consultant and trainer. He’s representing the Finns Party in the Helsinki local government election, and says he wants to promote tourism from Asia.

Laura Kolbe, Centre

A Professor of European History at Helsinki University, Kolbe is the Centre Party's candidate for Mayor of Helsinki.

Adwoa Brewu, Christian Democrats

Adwoa is a mother of two running on the Christian democrat ticket in Espoo. She wants to guarantee the wellbeing of children and young people, and says that a "sense of community must be fostered and traditional values must be preserved".

In a change to our earlier schedule, the social democrats will be represented in the debate by Abdirahim Hussein, not Tuula Haatainen as originally planned.

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