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Finnish parliament still mostly middle-aged, male

Finland ranks about tenth in the world with respect to lawmakers' gender balance.

Maria Ohisalo riemuitsee puolueväen keskellä vaalivalvojaisissa Helsingissä.
Greens deputy chair and MP Maria Ohisalo celebrating with supporters on Sunday. Image: Roni Rekomaa / Lehtikuva

Finland's parliamentary election on Sunday has been touted by some as a victory for "red-green" female candidates. Red-green parties include the Social Democrats, Left Alliance and Greens.

A total of 92 women were elected to national office in Finland this year - nine of them for the first time - making the country's incoming 200-member parliament 46 percent female.

Depending on the source, Finland is generally ranked tenth in the world regarding lawmakers' gender balance, and this election helped to improve gender equality in Finnish national politics.

Now, Finland trails just behind Sweden (by a tenth of a percentage point), a country which also recently saw an increase in females elected to parliament.

Veteran MP Janina Andersson was just 24-years-old when she first won a seat in parliament in the mid-90s, says she was unsure of on-the-job etiquette at first. But she quickly learned the rules after making headlines for breastfeeding her child at Parliament House.

"In 1995 there was no room for babies in politics, but quite quickly the female Speaker of Parliament made arrangements for female MPs with a baby care room for mothers with children. It was a psychological win for me that something so wrong became completely acceptable," she said.

Out of the Greens' 20 incoming representatives, 17 are women, a situation that Andersson doesn't consider balanced.

"I think there should be an even representation of ages and genders. When it comes to age [demographics] I think it looks very good, but within the Greens the gender split is rather lopsided and that's not good, either," Andersson.

Fewer new young MPs, but average age dropped slightly

The average age of Finland's next parliament dropped by a year, but at the same time the number of young MPs actually fell.

Out of the 200 available seats they were vying for, only eight candidates under the age of 30 managed to get elected in Sunday's general election.

The average age of incoming MPs is 46, while the average age of parliamentarians elected in the 2015 parliamentary election was 47.3.

However, the age decrease was not prompted by a slew of millennial 20-somethings being elected - the number of incoming MPs under the age of 30 - eight of them -actually declined this year.

In 2015 there were 14 MPs under 30 who were elected and in 2011 there were 11.

The youngest incoming female MP this year will be the Greens' 24-year-old Iiris Suomela.

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