Advanced voting for this year’s Parliamentary Election began across the country this morning and continues for a week. Around 40 per cent of the electorate usually vote in advance of election day itself, which this year is on 17 April. Both of the morning newspapers we subscribe to gave a hint of this news this morning with both Hufvudstadsbladet and Borgåbladet carrying full front page advertisements from the Swedish People’s Party (SFP). In our house, we have always had the tradition of voting on the actual voting day in our polling station, which is the local school, only ten minutes walk from where we live. And that is no doubt how we shall vote this year as well.
This year, more than ever, it’s important that everyone votes! In recent years, Finland has had very poor turnouts compared to our Nordic neighbours (e.g. over 84% of Swedes turned out in their election in September 2010, only 67,8% of Finns voted in he last parliamentary election in 2007). The threat of the populist anti-Swedish and anti-foreigner True Finns party winning a high proportion of the vote should ensure that more people vote this time. Not to mention the fact that the polls showing their level of support being comparable to the ‘big three’ parties in Finnish politics makes this year’s election more interesting, even if for a rather less than desirable reason. It may be so that low turnout in recent elections was partly down to the perceived inability of the voter to effect much change in a Parliament dominated by three almost equally sized parties (Centre, the conservative coalition Kokoomus party, and the Social Democrats). Swedish-speaking Finns, who always turn out in disproportionately high numbers compared to the population as a whole, have an extra reason to make their voice heard in this year’s poll – the status of Swedish has been discussed more vocally in this campaign than perhaps before the 1940s.
I haven’t had time to blog much lately, but as the election campaign enters its final phase, I will try and provide at least a few updates. On results night, I will hopefully provide a live blog as I did with the European Parliament Elections of 2009.