Local councillors and deputy councillors are elected to the local council in local elections held within the municipality every four years. The latest elections on mainland Finland were held on 9 April 2017.
The new Local Government Act (Section 16) gives the local council more freedom to decide the council size. Whereas the old Local Government Act of 1995 tied the number of councillors to the municipality’s population, the municipality can now decide whether to maintain, increase or reduce the number of local councillors. The number of councillors elected in the 2012 local elections was 9,674. In the 2017 local elections, the corresponding number was 8,999.
Citizens of Finland and of other European Union Member States and of Iceland and of Norway who are at least 18 years old on the day of the election and whose municipality of residence is the municipality in question, have the right to vote in local elections. Other foreigners meeting these requirements also have the right to vote in local elections if they have had a municipality of residence in Finland for two years. Candidates may be nominated by political parties and constituency associations.
There has been a significant decline in the voting turnout in local elections in Finland in the last few decades. The local elections of 2000 saw the lowest voting turnout ever (55.9%). There was some improvement in this respect in the 2004 elections, when 58.6% of eligible voters used their vote. In the 2008 elections, the voting turnout was 61.3% and 58.3% in the 2012 elections.
The voting turnout in the 2017 local elections was slightly up from the previous elections, at 58.9 per cent. The proportion of advance voters increased from 42.4 to 45.3 percent. Women accounted for 39 per cent and men for 61 per cent of the elected councillors. The proportion of new councillors was 44 per cent. The average age of councillors is 50 years, the youngest being 18 and the oldest 84.
Voting turnout (%) in Finnish local elections:
Elections 1992 70.9%
Elections 1996 61.3%
Elections 2000 55.9%
Elections 2004 58.6%
Elections 2008 61.3%
Elections 2012 58.3%.
Elections 2017 58.9%