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Wednesday's papers: Voting patterns and wealth, rejected ballots, holiday driving

The newspaper press Wednesday continued evaluations of Sunday's municipal elections, among them the daily Helsingin Sanomat reporting that Helsinki's least affluent districts still remain underrepresented on the city council. A number of papers also had advice for motorists planning to hit the roads over the upcoming holiday weekend.

Daily newspapers.
Image: E.D.Hawkins / Yle

Helsingin Sanomat writes that representative democracy in Helsinki is not geographically representative, that political power in the city continues to be concentrated in its wealthier districts.

Although the count had not been officially finalized when the paper went to press, it looked like the affluent district of Kruununhaka will have six representatives on Helsinki's 85-member city council. That works out at close to one representative per 1000 inhabitants. In contrast, the less-wealthy district of Kannelmäki which is home to 14,000 people didn't see a single local resident elected. The same holds true for large parts of northern and eastern Helsinki.

Helsingin Sanomat examined some of the reasons that could explain why this happens. One is that people who live in wealthier parts of town tend to stand as candidates in larger numbers. According to the paper, candidates also tend on average to be better educated and have higher incomes than the public at large. In contrast, the paper points to figures from Statistics Finland showing that immigrants, the unemployed and younger voters are underrepresented in elections nationwide. The income level of candidates also affects personal campaign budgets.

In addition, the results are a reflection of geographical variations in education and voter turnout. In the city district of Jakomäki, another area which will not have a local representative on the council, only 3% of residents have any tertiary education. In Katajanokka, that figure is 27%. In Jakomäki voter turnout was 43%. In Katajanokka it was 75%.

The future, not the past

Turun Sanomat tells it readers that no one can be forced off a municipal council because of past crimes, only for serious offenses once in office.

The paper wrote that it received a number of inquires about this after press reports earlier this week brought to light the fact that the biggest winner in the elections in Laitila, in southwestern Finland, has an extensive criminal record.

The tabloid Iltalehti wrote on Tuesday that Finns Party candidate and freshly-elected Laitila city councillor Tommi Johansson has a history of 34 criminal convictions, including assault.

Turun Sanomat explains that past convictions don't count. Councillors can be removed from office on the grounds of illegal activities only if convicted of an offense after being elected and only if that offence carries a sentence of at least six months in prison.

Johansson, who describes himself as a peaceful family man admitted his past record to Iltalehti, but said that after becoming a father he stopped drinking and turned over a new leaf.

Donald Duck, again

A sampling of rejected ballots, including votes for Finland's wartime military commander and post-war president C.G.E Mannerheim, and Dracula. Image: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva
Write-in ballots are used in Finnish elections. The voter is given an official paper ballot and once in the voting booth writes down the number assigned to the candidate of his or her choice.

Rejecting the candidates on offer, some voters again this time around came up with their own unofficial choices.

Reporting from Kuopio, the daily Savon Sanomat says that once again vote counters in that city came across ballots cast for Donald Duck, The Phantom, and at least one for Pecos Bill.

Also among rejected ballots were votes for Santa Claus, the late President Urho Kekkonen, Moomintroll, as well as an even one-one split for Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. Whoever cast a vote for Putin even went to the trouble of pasting a photo of the Russian leader onto the ballot.

Altogether, though, only 0.6% of all ballots in Kuopio were rejected as invalid for one reason or another.

Weekend traffic

Savon Sanomat was also among the morning papers to remind motorists that road traffic will be heavy on Thursday as many people head off to spend the long Easter weekend holiday.

Police are advising drivers to continue using winter tyres, if they haven't switched yet. This applies especially to anyone heading east or north.

Nighttime temperatures nationwide are forecast as sub-zero, making roads slippery, and unsettled weather, including rain and snow showers may make for some hazardous driving conditions.

Traffic is expected to peak sometime late Thursday, but also to be heavy on Friday. The post-holiday peak is expected on Monday between noon and 8PM.

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