Democracy and participation

Municipal elections

  • Municipal elections are held to elect councillors to municipal councils. The elections take place every four years, and the next municipal elections will be held in 2025. Then Finnish citizens aged 18 or over can choose who they want to represent them in municipal decision-making bodies. Municipal elections are essentially about local democracy. There we elect decision-makers, who are closest to us and shape our daily lives.

  • The important role of municipalities in our everyday lives cannot be emphasised enough. Municipalities make decisions about the future development of health care, child day care, early childhood education and care and services for older people as well as about road maintenance, basic education and services related to sports, physical activity and culture.

Who can become a candidate?

  • Anyone who wants to become a candidate must meet the requirements for general eligibility for election laid down in the Local Government Act. They must be at least 18 years old and their municipality of residence must be the municipality where they stand for election. Further, candidates must not be in any such employment relationships as referred to in the Act when the municipal councillors’ term begins. For example, a local government official who is in a senior position cannot stand for election to the council of the municipality by which she or he is employed.

  • Persons eligible to stand as a candidate in municipal elections are those:

    1. whose municipality of residence is the municipality in question;

    2. who have the right to vote in municipal elections in one of the municipalities; and

    3. who have not been declared legally incompetent, i.e. who are not under guardianship.

  • Finnish citizens and, under certain conditions, foreign nationals resident in a municipality have the right to vote and stand as candidates in municipal elections.

  • For more information and detailed instructions, please visit the elections website of the Ministry of Justice

There were 33,618 candidates for the 2017 municipal elections, of whom 8,999 were elected for the council term 2017–2021.

Information on the councillors elected for council term 2017–2021

  • In the 2017 municipal elections, altogether 8,999 councillors were elected to the councils in mainland Finland, which represents a fall of seven per cent from the previous elections.

  • The councillors elected represent 13 different political parties and several different constituency associations and joint lists.

  • About 44 per cent of the elected councillors were new, and the remaining 56 per cent had previous experience of council work. The proportion of new councillors grew slightly from the previous elections.

  • Women accounted for about 39 per cent of all elected councillors, which is more than ever before. Yet, women continue to account for a smaller proportion of the candidates and elected councillors than could be expected based on the proportion of female candidates and votes given to them.

  • Women account for about 39 per cent of council chairpersons and for 31 per cent of first deputy chairpersons.

  • The average age of the council members elected in the 2017 municipal elections was 50 and that of chairpersons was 52.

  • The youngest person to be elected was 18 years old, and the oldest 84, on the day of the election. The 18- to 29-year-olds accounted for a clearly lower proportion of the elected councillors than their proportion of the candidates.

  • Less than one per cent of those elected in the 2017 municipal elections had a mother tongue other than Finnish, Swedish or Sámi. Foreign-language speakers accounted for a clearly lower proportion of the elected councillors than their proportion of the candidates and persons entitled to vote.

  • The number of persons of foreign origin (i.e. whose parents were born abroad) elected was 66, up by nine persons from the previous elections.

  • Elected councillors are more highly educated than the candidates and persons entitled to vote. About 40 per cent of them have a higher education degree, whereas some nine percent have only completed basic education.

  • In all, 159 Members of the Finnish Parliament and four Members of the European Parliament were elected to municipal councils.

See also: 

Municipal elections in Finland

Municipal elections on Statistics Finland website