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Dip in candidate numbers for local elections

The lists are finalised and the names are in, and there has been a significant drop in the number of candidates standing in local elections scheduled for 8 April.

Vaalikuoren tiputtaminen vaaliuuraan.
Finland is due to hold local elections in April. Image: Kimmo Mäntylä / Lehtikuva

There will be fewer candidates to choose from in this April's local elections, after most parties fell short of their target numbers for candidate registration. The Finnish electoral system encourages parties to stand as many candidates as they can, in order to maximise the number of votes for the party list as a whole.

Unfortunately for most parties, they have fewer candidates this year than last time local elections were held in 2012. That's partly due to a municipal reform passed in 2015 that reduces the number of councillors in the smallest municipalities.

Local election candidates, big parties.
Image: Yle Uutisgrafiikka

The National Coalition Party fell a long way short of its target of standing 7,000 candidates nationwide, with just 5,700 signed up to the party's lists. The Social Democrats have more than 6,000 candidates, but that's around a thousand down on their figure for 2012.

The Centre Party, whose strength is in the rural hinterlands, has some 7,450 candidates—that's down from more than 8,000 in 2012. The Finns Party also saw a slight drop in members running for office, with around 3,800 standing this year.

Of the smaller parties, the Christian Democrats did best, exceeding their target and running some 2,000 candidates, while the Greens also managed to increase numbers since 2012.

Local election candidates, small parties.
Image: Yle Uutisgrafiikka

The Left Alliance and Swedish People's Party are both running fewer candidates this year than in 2012.

Candidates start campaigning in earnest now, with many to be found in market squares across the country, on social media, at local election debates and out and about in their communities. Most Finnish residents have the right to vote in the election, even if they are not Finnish citizens, provided they meet residency requirements.

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