How to find your candidate in the Finnish municipal elections 201706 Apr 2017
What is it all about?
Finland is divided into more than 300 municipalities. You live in one of them. For example, Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Tampere — all these cities are four different municipalities. And the upcoming elections are called municipal which already gives you an idea what is in their focus.
Why shall I bother?
The tasks of municipalities are HUGE in Finland. You can find the list in Wikipedia but I will mention just few to make the importance of municipalities clear:
- Education (schools, libraries, adult education centers)
- Social services and healthcare
- Public transport, roads, zoning, infrastructure
- Regional economic development
If you want your opinion heard, take a little bit of effort — select you candidate and party and vote!
Whom do I elect?
The highest decision-making body in a municipality is a council elected at the municipal elections. You can vote only for one candidate. Not a party he or she belongs to but a candidate. There is a huge—huge—huge BUT — you absolutely do need to check the party he or she represents. OK, at least in most of the cases.
Why? Because the votes are counted for the parties first. Too complicated? I try to explain it in simple English.
- Every candidate belongs to only one party
- At first, the votes for all the party candidates are counted.
- At second, the number of seats for every party is counted using the D'Hondt method. Let's say, N seats were allocated for the party your candidate belongs to.
- At third, the party candidates are ordered by the number of votes they got.
- And only at the very last step, the elected candidates are determined — N top positions from the ordered list created at the previous step.
So, you can have two strategies while voting:
- Don't bother about the party candidate represents and focus on the candidate him— or herself. If this is your strategy, you need to be sure that the candidate is so popular that he or she alone can get enough votes to be elected. If you selected a wrong horse and the ideas of candidate and his party differ significantly (yes, it happens!) then you can end up in a situation when your vote is used by the party with totally different views than yours.
- Select a party and a preferable candidate from it. In this case even if your candidate is not elected, your voice is used by the party you have similar views with.
I strongly recommend the second approach.
Vaalikone/Valkompass: the tool to select your party and candidate
Yle has a really nice project called Vaalikone (Swedish version is called Valkompass). All the candidates and parties have answered the same questions divided into six groups — Education, Social services, Money, Daily routines. Home (specific to municipality) and Values. You are asked exactly the same questions and can find the candidates and parties with the views similar to yours. Then you can inspect the answers given by the candidates in-depth. Party's answers will be also shown
The service is available in Finnish and Swedish only. So, if you do not understand any of these languages, use Google Translate. It takes around 15 minutes to answer all the questions and get the results.
This is the simplest way to select your candidate if you do not follow the politics but want to make a meaningful choice in the upcoming elections.
Let's illustrate usage of Vaalikone/Valkompass tool by example. I will use screenshots from the Swedish version as this is the language I speak myself. But the questions and UI elements are exactly the same in Finnish and Swedish versions!
Step 1: Select your municipality
Open Valkompassen and select your municipality. In my case it is Espoo (Esbo in Swedish):
Press "Starta valkompassen" button.
Step 2: Answer the questionnaire
Answer the same questions as candidates and their parties.
- helt av annan åsikt I am totally against this.
- hoppa över frågan Skip the question.
- helt av samma åsikt I am totally support this.
At the right column you can see two tables: "Mest lämpliga kandidater" (Most suitable candidates) and "Kandidater vars svar står längst från dig" (The candidates with the views most different from yours). While you are answering, the content of these tables is being instantly updated to reflect your choices.
Step 3: Select the most suitable candidate
When you are done, you will see the top most suitable candidates in the table "Mest lämpliga kandidater".
When you are done, press the button "Hämta kandidater" and you will get the list of the candidates sorted by the similarity of their answers with yours.
And now you need to carefully analyze the results. Don't blindly select the candidate number 1. At first, the top candidates can be very close to each other. At second, pay attention to the party answers.
Here we can see that my answers are close to the answers of candidate Mr. X and to the answers of his party. But the situation with the next suitable candidate (number 18) is very different! My answers are quite close to his but very far from the answers of his party! It means that if this candidate is not elected, my voice goes to the other candidate from the party I have huge disagreements with! This probability is quite high because supporters of his party do also check his answers and they most probably prefer another candidate to vote for.
It makes sense to inspect in-depth the answers of the candidates you are interested. It is simple. Just press "Läs mer" button in the candidate box and you will see the answers of the candidate and his/her party.
The following signs are used to mark the answers:
- Star icon. Party's answer.
- Human icon. Candidate's answer.
- Colored rectangular. Your answer.
Here we can see that both me and the candidate are totally against the idea that we need a strong leadership and no compromises. Unfortunately candidate's party has very different stand on this matter.
Similar situation is with the next question — both me and candidates agree that it is more important for the children to be curious and independent than to behave good and obey the rules. However, the party is quite far from both of us.