The winners of Finland’s parliamentary elections include expatriate Finns and Finns abroad. Turnout of expatriate Finns – Finns living overseas – rose to 12.6% (revised result) in the parliamentary elections held on Sunday, April 4. The figure increased by a record-breaking 2.5 percentage points. Meanwhile turnout of voters living in Finland rose by two percentage points.

”Expatriate Finns have made history: their voter turnout has never been this high in Finnish parliamentary elections,” says Finland Society chair Jarmo Virmavirta.

There are an estimated 254,574 persons overseas who are eligible to vote in Finnish elections. Of these, 41,127 voted in the parliamentary election: a total of 40,914 persons cast their votes at Finland’s foreign representations and other advance polling places provided by the Finnish Foreign Ministry at 219 sites in 86 countries. Moreover, 213 people voted on board ships. The number of overseas voters increased by 5,600 from the previous parliamentary elections.

Sunday’s elections were also the first absentee voting elections in Finnish history: Finns residing overseas had a choice to vote by postal ballot instead of making the traditional visit to an advance polling place. All in all, 6,166 Finns seized this opportunity. This figure contains also Finns who live in Finland but voted abroad by postal ballot. Thus the votes given from abroad totalled 47,293.

”Postal voting promotes expatriate Finns’ affiliation with Finland and participation in its affairs. The mission of Finland Society, the expert and service organization for all Finns abroad, is to strengthen this connection. We also consider the increasing international mobility of Finns a megatrend of our time. It should most definitely be taken into account in the next government program,” emphasizes Jarmo Virmavirta.

The order service for postal voting material opened three months prior to the parliamentary elections. A week before the election, the service had received about 12,000 overseas orders for voting material. It remains to be studied why nearly half of postal voting documents were left unused.

”We believe that postal voting will continue to increase the voting turnout of expatriate Finns from one election to the next, in line with the Swedish model. Voting will be easier in the second postal voting elections of this spring, the European Parliament elections, when Finland forms one electoral district and voters can pick their candidate from anywhere in the country,” Virmavirta sums up.

Finland Society and the Finnish Expatriate Parliament campaigned for postal voting for 18 years. Expatriate Finns constitute 5.6% of all eligible voters. The figure is slightly higher than that of Swedish-speaking Finns. Postal voting aims to make voting conditions easier for all Finns abroad.

More information:

Finland Society Executive Director Tina Strandberg, +358-40-777 8810, tina.strandberg@suomi-seura.fi

Parliamentary Secretary Sini Castrén, 09-684 2127, info@usp.fi