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Political parties recruiting candidates for "everyone's" election

The deadline for submitting candidate lists for the county council election is 14 December, with the vote scheduled for 23 January 2022.

Äänestyslipuketta leimataan.
Voters will go to the polls to elect regional assembly members that will have responsibility for the provision of social and healthcare services. Image: Kimmo Gustafsson / Yle
Yle News

Finland's main political parties are stepping up their efforts to recruit as many candidates as possible with the county council election just over two months away.

Voters will go to the polls on 23 January 2022 to elect regional assembly members that will have responsibility for the provision of social and healthcare services.

Check out Yle News' very simple guide to the election here to find out more about the upcoming vote.

Yle asked the party secretaries of each parliamentary party how the process of recruiting candidates has progressed so far, with most reporting a "smooth flow" of willing candidates.

All of the major parties also said they are aiming for full candidate lists to stand in all 21 welfare regions, which would mean about 1,700 candidates per party.

The deadline for submitting candidate lists is 14 December.

Currently the two most popular parties in the country — the opposition National Coalition Party (NCP) and Prime Minister Sanna Marin's Social Democratic Party (SDP) — already have signed up over one thousand candidates each, while the Finns Party and the Centre Party both have about a thousand candidates already registered.

The party secretaries from the NCP, the Finns Party and the Centre all said they were confident they would reach the target of 1,700 candidates, while the SDP predicted reaching "at least 95 percent".

"In Kainuu, for example, filling that list will be a tough task, because we have to find more candidates than we had in the municipal elections. On the other hand, larger areas have more candidates than they can accommodate," SDP's party secretary Antton Rönnholm told Yle.

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Among the other parties, the Left Alliance reported that it has so far recruited just under one thousand candidates while governing coalition partner the Green Party has about 700 names on the list.

Both the Left Alliance and the Greens told Yle they did not expect to submit full lists, especially in the smaller welfare regions.

Most of the smaller parties have recruited a few hundred candidates each. For example, the Swedish People's Party (SPP) has about 250 candidates, which is quite close to the party's target of 300.

Quality not quantity

In municipal elections, the number of candidates that parties can put on their lists can be a significant determining factor in the outcome of the vote, with each party working to the general hypothesis that the more candidates, the better.

However, the logic for the regional elections will be different as there is less pressure on parties to fill the lists as with the municipal elections.

In some high-population regions, for example, the maximum size of the list is even more of a constraint as not everyone who wants to run as a candidate can do so. Therefore, from the point of view of the parties, the quality of the candidates will be the key challenge.

"We will look to get candidates on the list who cover a diverse range by gender, age, profession and regional distribution," the Centre's party secretary Riikka Pirkkalainen said.

The parties will need both well-known politicians as well as specialists in the fields of social, healthcare and emergency services on their lists.

Another key consideration will be the strategic distribution of candidates. For example, a candidate in a large city can collect more votes than a candidate in 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 healthcare professionals, those working in the business world as well as entrepreneurs," the NCP's party secretary Kristiina Kokko said.

18-year-old politician: This is "everyone's election"

Each party also cited one fundamental challenge when recruiting candidates: it is not easy to inspire the youngest age groups to get involved in politics.

In the case of the regional elections in particular, this type of vote is the first of its kind in Finland and the role of the county councils is still unclear to many people.

"How do we attract those young people to get involved in activities that are not always that nice. It is often about working on difficult and controversial issues," Finns Party secretary Arto Luukkanen said.

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RKP:n Porvoon aluevaaliehdokas Florenta Dushi henkilökuvassa.
Swedish People's Party (SPP) candidate Florenta Dushi. Image: Petteri Bülow / Yle

However, Florenta Dushi, a candidate for the Swedish People's Party in the southern city of Porvoo, believes she has the answer. Despite being only 18 years old, this will be Dushi's second election, as she previously ran in the municipal elections in June.

"Sote [social and healthcare services] issues are everyone's business. In the welfare regions, it will be decided what kind of services the residents of the area 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," she said, adding that the provision of mental health services, for example, should be of particular importance to 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.

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