You may have heard that a completely new kind of election will be held in Finland in January – county elections. What was your first reaction? ”What a wonder, again new elections? What are we even voting for? Should I even vote? ”
Short answer: yes, it is worth voting. Now that this matter has been internalized, we can delve deeper into what it is all about. In June 2021, the Finnish Parliament approved the government’s proposal for social services reform. 21 welfare areas will be established in Finland, which will be responsible for organizing social and health care and rescue services. Municipalities have had this responsibility in the past. As an exception, the City of Helsinki is not a welfare area and does not belong to any welfare area, and therefore county elections will not be held there.
The decision-making power of the welfare area is exercised by the county council, the members of which are now elected in this election for four years. The size of the council can be determined by the welfare area itself, only the minimum amounts are set according to the population of the welfare area (the smallest 59 and the largest 89).
County elections are a new thing for all us living in Finland. Voting exhaustion or lack of information can lessen people’s enthusiasm for voting. However, once again, we are voting for people to make decisions about all of us – health care and social services. When voting, students should ensure that our voices are heard at all levels of decision-making now and in the future. In a student city, our share of the population is significant and we have the strength – together we vote for candidates in the regional council who undertake to take care of the affairs of the students as well.
A few concrete things that can be decided at the regional council level: Is contraception free of charge for young people? How much resources are directed to mental health services? How are income supports granted? All of these are things that affect the daily lives of many college students.
Were you really excited about making an impact? Does voting alone not seem to be an effective enough way? Nominate! In regional elections, anyone eligible to stand as a candidate can stand as in other elections. You may want to contact the regional office of the party you feel comfortable with – they will be happy to help you move forward. Elections are conducted on a proportional basis.
The regional election day is Sunday, January 23, 2022. You can vote in advance in Finland from 12 to 18 January 2022 and abroad from 12 to 15 January 2022. Submission of applications to the Regional Election Commission: no later than 14 December 2021 before 4 p.m.
A person who is eligible to stand as a candidate in regional elections is a person who
- who is a resident of the welfare area in question (whose municipality belongs to that welfare area),
- has the right to vote in regional elections in one of the welfare areas, and
- which has not been declared incapacitated.
More detailed information about the elections can be found at https://vaalit.fi/en/county-elections