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Finns Party top shadow youth election poll

The mock election was organised by the Finnish National Youth Council, Allianssi, and saw a record 90,435 votes cast.

Nuoret pitelevät äänestyslipukkeita käsissään.
The youth election aimed to give young people an experience of voting. Image: Salla Merikukka
Yle News

The Finns Party has emerged as the winner of a shadow parliamentary election organised by the Finnish National Youth Council, Allianssi.

The populist party claimed 46 seats in the mock ballot, which saw a record 90,435 votes cast by young people across the country. The centre-right National Coalition Party (NCP) came second in the vote with 31 seats, while Prime Minister Sanna Marin's Social Democratic Party finished third, on 29 seats.

The results were published on Tuesday during an event at Vuoniitty comprehensive school in the Vuosaari district of Helsinki.

The event was live-streamed by Yle and was attended by the council's Youth Inclusion Specialist Silja Uusikangas as well as by Paiju Pajunen, Project Manager of Allianssi's Parliamentary Elections.

Youth vote for familiar faces from social media

Popular candidates among the young people who participated in the shadow election included YouTuber Pasi Viheraho of the nationalist Finnish Nation First party, Ville Merinen of the Social Democratic Party — whose videos are popular on TikTok — and current MP Kai Mykkänen of the NCP.

Silja Uusikangas noted that the candidates who received the most votes in the youth election tended to use the same social media channels as young people.

"You can't think of going on social media a month or two before the elections to talk about the elections, you have to be in those environments where young people are all the time, especially on social media," Uusikangas said.

Alisa Posio, a student at Vuoniity school, told Yle that she was not surprised by the popularity of the Finns Party, as many of Posio's acquaintances have said they support the party.

"They have seen so many different videos about what the Finns Party stands for and what their cause is," Posio said, adding that the videos usually highlighted issues related to young people as well as the candidates' own stories about their election campaigns.

Student Hilkka Kotilainen said she considers youth issues — such as mental health, equality and the environment — to be of utmost importance when making her decision on which candidate to vote for.

Based on the results of the shadow election, some 26 candidates under the age of 30 would be elected as MPs.

Young people just as politically engaged

According to Silja Uusikanka, the result of the youth election shows that young people are engaged in the electoral process, especially in light of the record number of votes cast in the shadow election this time around.

"Sometimes you hear people wondering whether young people know enough or understand politics. I think this shows that young people are just as interested in social issues as other age groups," Uusikangas said

Anyone under the age of 18 is permitted to vote in the youth council's shadow election. Paiju Pajunen told Yle that most of the voters are secondary school, high school or vocational school students, but there are also younger voters.

"It depends on who has chosen to organise the vote. Votes have also been organised in libraries and hobby groups," Pajunen noted.

The purpose of youth elections is to provide young people with an experience of voting and thus lay the groundwork for voting in the actual elections, and for other forms of participation in decision-making.

Advance voting for Finland's parliamentary elections opens on Wednesday 22 March, with the official polling date scheduled for Sunday 2 April.

Yle News' simple guide provides all the key information on the election, while Yle's election compass helps voters find parties and candidates that share their political views.

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