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Election candidates face vandalism, ridicule and sexual harassment, an Yle survey finds

Hundreds of local election candidates say they have encountered various forms of harassment.

Töhrittyjä vaalimainoksia
Image: Joonas Haverinen / Yle

Some 700 municipal election candidates told Yle they have faced harassment and threats during their campaigns.

Several candidates told Yle that their campaign posters had been defaced while some said their cars had been vandalised. A few said they had faced the threat of physical violence. Several women candidates reported they had experienced sexual harassment online as well as in person.

The defacing or destruction of political party posters has been a feature of this campaign. The offices of the Left Alliance and the Green Party were smeared with offensive slogans and symbols in both Oulu and Pori.

This week Yle News’ All Points North podcast explored the fraught atmosphere during this election season, which has seen online hate speech rise to unprecedented levels in Finland.

You can listen to the full podcast using the embedded player here or via Yle Areena, Spotify, Apple Podcasts or your usual podcast player using the RSS feed.

Article continues after audio.

Audio: Yle News

Aishi Zidan, a spokesperson for the Finnish Security and Intelligence Service (Supo), told Yle via email that election candidates and other political actors in Finland are increasingly harassed, particularly online.

Safeguarding democracy is one of Supo's missions.

While hate speech is on the rise, Supo said it was not aware of any concrete or organised threats against political parties.

A fresh report by the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities meanwhile found that the fear of harassment impacted more than half of local councillors' willingness to stand for re-election.

Yle sent its poll to the offices of all parliamentary groups as well as to regional and local party offices. The survey drew 1,800 responses from 13 parties. With 35,600 people standing for local office in this election cycle, responses represent five percent of all candidates.

All Points North's in-depth interviews with all of Finland's political party leaders in the run-up to the 13 June elections are available on Yle Areena.

Check out whether you can vote at canivote. We have compiled a really simple guide to Finland’s local elections, and you can also check out our election compass in English here.

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