European Parliament elections, quality description

1. Relevance of statistical information

1.1 Summary of the information content of statistics

Statistics Finland produces Finland’s official statistics from European Parliament elections containing key data on the candidates, elected councillors, those entitled to vote, those who voted and support gained by the parties. Preliminary data have been published on the Internet starting from the first European Parliament elections held in Finland (1996); these statistics are updated by the figures of the confirmed result. Statistics Finland’s statistics pages on European Parliament elections also include tables in databases, i.e. the StatFin online service, containing data by voting district starting from 2004.

1.2 Essential concepts
Holding of elections

The European Parliament elections are held every five years in all EU Member States. The European Parliament is the only international organ that the citizens elect by direct elections. National authorities oversee practical arrangements for the elections. In Finland the organiser is the Ministry of Justice that confirms the candidates and the election result. In Finland the European Parliament elections are held on Sunday, 26 May. Elections are held in accordance with the Election Act in force, more details on the Ministry of Justice’s webpages www.vaalit.fi (=> Legislation) and www.finlex.fi, Election Act (714/1998).

Legislation

The elections for the Members of European Parliament (European Parliament elections) are held in each Member State in accordance with the national election legislation. In addition, the stipulations of the EU’s election regulation (from 1976) are followed. With the revision of election legislation in 1998, all provisions on elections were collected into one single act, the Election Act (714/1998), which entered into force on 8 October 1998. The Act 1213/2013 amended Paragraph 2 Section 2 and Paragraph 3 Section 18 of the Election Act (714/1998). The Act 1213/2013 entered into force on 1 January 2014.

Amendment of election legislation 939/2017

The amendment to the Election Act (939/2017), which allowed postal voting for Finnish citizens not resident in Finland and other voters staying abroad at the time of the elections, was confirmed on 14 December 2017 and it came into force on 1 November 2018. Postal voting can be used for the first time in the 2019 Parliamentary elections.

Government bill for an act on amendment to the Election Act (HE 101/2017).

The main principles of holding elections

All elections in Finland are held according to the following principles:

  • The elections are direct. Electors (those entitled to vote) vote directly for the person they want to be elected.

  • The elections are proportional. In proportional elections each party or other group gains seats in relation to the votes cast for it compared with the votes cast for other groups (not in presidential elections).

  • The elections are secret. Secrecy of the ballot means that neither the election authorities nor anyone else get to know for whom voters have cast their votes or whether they have returned an empty ballot.
    By contrast, the information on whether a person entitled to vote has exercised his/her right, i.e. actually voted, is not covered by the secrecy of the ballot.

  • The right to vote is universal and equal. Universal franchise means that the right to vote only depends on requirements which citizens usually fulfil. Equal franchise means that every person entitled to vote has an equal right to influence the election results. In general, everybody has one vote in elections.

  • Voting is personal . The right to vote may not be used through an agent.

  • Voting takes place in front of election authorities. An exception is postal voting that does not take place in front of election authorities. In postal voting, the voter needs to have two witnesses who attest, by their signatures, that voting has taken place in such an manner that election secrecy has been preserved and electoral freedom respected while voting.

  • The Finnish election system is a combination of voting for individuals and parties , where a vote goes to both a party and a person (not in presidential elections).

Right to vote (Paragraph 2 Section 2, amended on 1 January 2014), establishing the voting register and the information contained in this (Paragraph 3 Section 16, amended on 1 January 2014) and eligibility

Entitled to vote in European Parliament elections held in Finland are every person that has reached the age of 18 no later than on day of the election::

  • a) every Finnish citizen regardless of the domicile, and

  • b) all citizens of a Member State of the EU who have not lost eligibility in elections in their home state and who is registered in the voting register in Finland by the 80th day before the election at the local register office and

  • b1) whose municipality of residence is in Finland on the 51st day before the election day or

  • b2) who is employed by the European Union or an international organisation in Finland or is a family member of such a person in Finland.

A person entitled to vote may only vote in one Member State in the same European elections, either in his/her home state or in his/her country of residence.

A Finnish citizen, who has registered as a voter in another Member State within the set time limit, is not entitled to vote in the European Parliament elections in Finland.

Persons with a right to vote can vote either 1) during the advance voting. or 2) on the election Sunday.

Voting of citizens of other EU Member States in Finland

Citizens of other EU Member States living in Finland can vote in the Finnish European Parliament elections if they wish. This requires that the person is registered in the voting register in Finland by 4 pm on 7 March 2019. The registration is done at the local register office.

When a person has been entered in the voting register in Finland, Finnish authorities will send a notification of this to the authorities of the person’s home state, who will remove the person from their electoral lists. This is because EU’s election regulation stipulates that a person can only vote in one Member State, either in his/her country of residence or home state, as desired.

A EU citizen included in the voting register in Finland is also eligible to be a candidate in the Finnish European Parliament elections.

Voting by a Finnish citizen in another EU Member State

A Finnish citizen entitled to vote who resides in another EU Member State can chose whether he/she wants to vote in the country of residence or in the Finnish European Parliament elections.

If he/she wants to vote in the European Parliament election in the country of residence, he/she shall register in the electoral lists of the country of residence in accordance with what the election legislation of the country of residence rules. After this, the authority responsible for the electoral lists in the country of residence informs the Population Register Centre of Finland and it removes the person’s name from the voting register of the Finnish elections.

If he/she wants to be able to vote in the Finnish European Parliament elections he/she needs to do nothing as he/she is automatically entitled to vote in Finnish elections. However, if the person entitled to vote has already registered to vote in his/her country of residence and now wishes to vote in the Finnish election, he/she should withdraw the previous registration with the electoral authority in the country of residence. If a person entitled to vote is uncertain whether the registration is valid, he/she can check this by contacting the electoral authority in the country of residence.

If the United Kingdom (UK) separates from the European Union before the beginning of the electoral period (Brexit), it will not participate in the 2019 European Parliamentary elections. All Finnish citizens living in the UK will automatically be included in the voting register of the Finnish European Parliament elections and they will receive a notice of the right to vote to the address they have registered in the Finnish Population Information System.

Establishing the voting register and the information contained in this

If the municipality of residence of a person entitled to vote is not in Finland on the 51st day before the election day, the municipality in the population register in accordance with the Municipality of Residence Act is entered into the voting register instead of the municipality of residence. If this municipality no longer belongs to the Finnish territory, the City of Helsinki is used. If a citizen of another EU Member State entitled to vote in the European Parliament elections does not have a municipality of residence in Finland, the municipality of the polling station is entered into the voting register instead of the municipality of residence. In such cases, the person entitled to vote belongs to the voting district which the council has based on Paragraph 1, Section 8 decreed as the voting district for persons who have not been registered under any real estate in the Population Information System.

Eligibility

The provisions on eligibility are the same as in parliamentary elections. Thus eligible are

  1. All Finnish citizens who are entitled to vote in elections and not legally incompetent, and

  2. All citizens of a Member State of the EU who are entitled to vote and who have registered and been entered into the voting register in Finland, and who have not lost eligibility in elections in their home state.

However, a member of the European Parliament cannot be:
  1. A member of the Council of State;

  2. A member of the European Commission;

  3. A Judge, Advocate-General or Registrar of the European Court of Justice or of the Court of First Instance;

  4. A member of the executive board of the European Central Bank;

  5. A member of the European Court of Auditors;

  6. The European Ombudsman;

  7. A member of the Economic or Social Committees for the European Community or the European Atomic Energy Community;

  8. A member of the Committee of Regions;

  9. A member of a Committee or another body responsible for the permanent administration or finances of the Community as is provided in the Treaties regarding the European Community and the European Atomic Energy Community;

  10. A member of the Board of Directors and Board of Governors of the European Investment Bank and a member of staff of the European Investment Bank;

  11. An official or a staff member working in the service of a body or a specialist organisation of the European Community;

  12. A person who is in a post or a position that impedes membership of a Parliament as is provided in the Constitution.

Nomination of candidates

Candidates in European elections may be nominated by

  1. Parties entered into the party register, and

  2. Constituency associations established by people entitled to vote.

The candidates enter as candidates in the entire country. Each party may nominate not more than 20 candidates. Parties may form electoral alliances. However, the maximum number of candidates for parties forming an electoral alliance may be the same as for an individual party, i.e. 20. All candidates are nominated for the whole country. A constituency association for the nomination of one candidate may be established by at least 2,000 people entitled to vote. Constituency associations may form a joint list that can have at most 20 candidates.

Parties and constituency associations must deliver their list of candidates (candidate application) to the Electoral District Committee of Helsinki by 4 pm on the 40th day prior to the election day. However, in the 2019 European Parliament elections the deadline for the candidate applications is exceptionally on Thursday 18 April 2019 before 4 pm. By the same deadline, notifications of electoral alliances and of joint electoral lists must also be delivered to the Electoral District Committee.

The Electoral District Committee of Helsinki compiles a combined list of the candidates in which the candidates of all parties, constituency associations and joint lists are enumerated in an order drawn by lot. The combined list contains the following information on the candidates: number (beginning with number 2), name, municipality of residence and title, profession or position.

Seats

The maximum number of councillors in the European Parliament is 751 (705 councillors after the possible Brexit). Each Member State may have a maximum of 96 councillors, but not less than six councillors.

In the 2019 European Parliament elections, the number of councillors selected from Finland is 14 or 13, if the United Kingdom (UK) is still a EU Member State at the beginning of the electoral period ( = at the beginning of July). In previous European Parliament elections, councillors were elected from Finland as follows: 16 councillors in 1996 and 1999, 14 councillors in 2004 and 13 councillors in 2009 and 2014.

Member States and their current number of seats and the new number of seats that will be in force if UK is no longer a Member State

Member
State
Current
number
of seats 
New
number
of seats
Change  
Germany 96 96 -
France 74 79 +5
United
Kingdom
(UK)
73 - -73
Italy 73 76 +3
Spain 54 59 +5
Poland 51 52   +1
Romania 32 33   +1
The Netherlands 26 29   +3
Greece 21 21 -
Belgium 21 21 -
Portugal 21 21 -
The Czech
Republic
21 21 -
Hungary 21 21 -
Sweden 20 21 +1
Austria 18 19 +1
Bulgaria 17 17 -
Denmark 13 14 +1
Slovakia 13 14 +1
Finland 13 14 +1
Ireland 11 13 +2
Croatia 11 12 +1
Lithuania 11 11 -
Slovenia 8 8 -
Latvia 8 8 -
Estonia 6 7 +1
Cyprus 6 6 -
Luxemburg 6 6 -
Malta 6 6 -
Totalt 751 705

European Parliament councillors are arranged into political groups not by nationality. You need 25 councillors from at least seven Member States in order to form a political group. Seat distribution of the parliament on *15 May 2019 (www.europarl.europa.eu/meps/fi/search/advanced?groupCode=2970):

EPP group, Group of the European People's Party Christian Democrats) *216
S&D, Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament *185
ECR, European Conservatives and Reformists Group *77
ALDE&R, Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe + Renaissance + USR PLUS *69
Greens/EFA, Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance *52
GUE/NGL, Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left *52
EFDD, Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy Group *42
ENF, Europe of Nations and Freedom Group *36
NI, Non-attached Members *20

The parliamentary seats are divided so that the Member States small in population have in relative terms more seats than large Member States.

European Parliament, names and abbreviations of political groups and the parties of the group's Finnish members (situation on 5 June 2019)

Party of the
group's Finnish
members
Abbreviation
of group
Name of group
in English and
abbreviation
National
Coalition
Party
KOK
EPP European
People’s Party
Group
(Christian Democrats)
EPP
Centre
Party
of Finland
KESK

Swedish
People's
Party
in Finland
RKP
ALDE&R Group of the
Alliance of Liberals
and Democrats
for Europe +
Renaissance +
USR PLUS
ALDE&R
Finns
Party
PS
ECR European
Conservatives
and Reformists
Group
ECR
Finnish
Social
Democratic
Party
SDP
S & D group of the
Progressive Alliance
of Socialists and
Democrats in the
European Parliament
S & D
Green
League
VIHR
Greens/EFA Group of the
Greens/European
Free Alliance
Greens/EFA
The Left
Alliance
VAS
GUE/NGL Confederal Group
of the European
United Left -
Nordic
Green Left
GUE/NGL
.. EFDD Europe of
Freedom and
Direct
Democracy
Group
EFDD
.. NI Non-attached
Members -
Members not
belonging to
any political
group
NI
.. ENF Europe of Nations
and Freedom
Group
ENF

Parliamentary seats are divided between the parties, electoral alliances and constituency associations by the number of votes gained by them in the whole country following the d’Hondt method. The party, electoral alliance or joint list receives as its first comparative index the total number of votes cast for the party, electoral alliance or joint list concerned. The candidate with the highest number of votes cast in the group then gets as a comparative index the total number of votes cast for the group, the second one half of the number of votes and the third one third and so on.

Changes in constituencies and municipalities and consolidations of municipalities

Changes in constituencies and municipalities and consolidations of municipalities concerning elections of different years are presented on the Internet in the Classifications section (on the homepage of European Parliament elections).

The division into constituencies was changed in the act amending the Election Act (271/2013) that entered into force on 1 September 2013 and the act was applied for the first time in the Parliamentary elections 2015 (19 April 2015).

In the amendment of the Election Act, the constituencies of Kymi (08) and South Savo (09) were combined into the new Southeast Finland constituency (08) and the constituencies of North Savo (10) and North Karelia (11) were combined into the new Savo-Karelia constituency (09).

Municipalities are placed into constituencies according to the constituency division in force. At the beginning of 2019, the number of municipalities is 295 in Mainland Finland and 16 in Åland.

The valid statistical grouping of municipalities is used in the statistics (Statistics Finland, Municipalities and Regional Divisions Based on Municipalities). In the statistical grouping of municipalities, municipalities are divided by the proportion of the population living in urban settlements and by the population of the largest urban settlement into urban, semi-urban and rural municipalities. The classification is based on the definition of urban settlements made in 2018 and the population of the municipality in 2017. The definition of urban settlements is produced yearly by the Finnish Environment Institute.

  1. Urban municipalities are those municipalities in which at least 90 per cent of the population lives in urban settlements, or in which the population of the largest urban settlement is at least 15,000.

  2. Semi-urban municipalities are those municipalities in which at least 60 per cent but less than 90 per cent of the population lives in urban settlements, or in which the population of the largest urban settlement is at least 4,000 but less than 15,000.

  3. Rural municipalities are those municipalities in which less than 60 per cent of the population lives in urban settlements, and in which the population of the largest urban settlement is less than 15,000, as well as those municipalities in which at least 60 per cent but less than 90 per cent of the population lives in urban settlements, and in which the population of the largest urban settlement is less than 4,000.

Classifications used

Names of constituencies in European Parliament elections in 2019 are:

  1. Helsinki constituency

  2. Uusimaa constituency

  3. Varsinais-Suomi constituency

  4. Satakunta constituency

  5. Åland constituency

  6. Häme consitituency

  7. Pirkanmaa constituency

  8. Southeast constituency

  9. Savo-Karelia constituency

  10. Vaasa constituency

  11. Central Finland constituency

  12. Oulu constituency

  13. Lapland constituency

In the European Parliament elections Finland forms one constituency. The candidates stand as candidates for the whole country and the voters may vote for any candidate. However, the votes cast in the European Parliament elections are initially counted by national constituency and the election committee of the constituency of Helsinki the combines the results of all constituencies into a result for the whole country.

Statistics Finland's classification of municipalities. Constituency, municipality group, municipality, voting district, party (included in the Party Register), age of candidates and elected councillors, nationality and country of residence.

Candidates have been nominated in the 2019 European Parliament elections by the following registered parties (17/19):
  • Finnish Social Democratic Party (SDP)

  • Centre Party of Finland (KESK)

  • National Coalition Party (KOK)

  • Swedish People’s Party in Finland (RKP)

  • Christian Democrats in Finland (KD)

  • Green League (VIHR)

  • The Left Alliance (VAS)

  • Finns Party (PS)

  • Communist Party of Finland (SKP)

  • Liberal Party - Freedom for Choice (LIBE)

  • Pirate Party of Finland (Pirattip.)

  • Animal Justice Party of Finland (EOP)

  • Citizens’ Party (KP)

  • Feminist Party (FP)

  • Blue Reform (Sin)

  • Finnish People First (SKE)

  • Seven Star Movement (STL)

Data collection methods and data sources

Statistics Finland receives basic election data from the Ministry of Justice’s election data system, the technical implementation of which it has assigned to Tieto Oyj. Statistics Finland collects data with a separate form on advance voting from municipalities that do not use an electronic voting register (municipalities in the constituency of Åland).

1.3 Acts, decrees and recommendations

The function of Statistics Finland is to compile statistics describing conditions in society (Statistics Finland Act of 24 January 1992/48). These also include election statistics. Statistics Finland’s Rules of Procedure define the Population and Social Statistics department as the producer of election statistics (Statistics Finland’s Rules of Procedure, TK-00-954-18).

2. Methodological description of survey

The statistics are based on total data. The basic data of the statistics are based on the Ministry of Justice's election data system consisting of five subsystems. They include:

  1. Basic data and geographical information system that includes, for example, data on constituencies, municipalities and voting districts as well as election authorities (polling station register, which include data on general advance polling stations and polling stations on election day);

  2. Franchise data (voting register) for which data on every person entitled to vote are collected by the Population Register Centre on the 46th day (10 April 2019) prior to the election day. The voting register is formed separately for each election. The voting register personal data on each person entitled to vote the data (name, personal identity code, constituency, municipality of domicile and polling station) included in the Population Information System on the 51st day prior (5 April 2019) to the election day. The voting register becomes legally valid at (12:00) noon 12 days prior to the election day.
    The voting register is in use in the advance polling stations and every person that votes in advance is marked in the register. The voting register can, however, also be used in the polling stations instead of electoral rolls on the election day.

  3. Data on candidates (candidate register, confirmed on 25 April 2019) in which the following data on each candidate in the elections are entered: name, candidate number, profession, municipality of residence, party/constituency association that has nominated the candidate, and personal identity code;

  4. A centralised calculation system to which the electoral district committees and the central election committees submit their results of the elections;

  5. The result service system (statistical and information service system) by means of which the results of the elections and other statistical data are transmitted to the media and to Statistics Finland.

Statistics Finland’s election data system comprises four election data files: regional file, party file, candidate file and candidate register.

3. Correctness and accuracy of data

The basic data of the statistics derive from the Ministry of Justice's election data system and from data supplied by the election authorities, which can be considered reliable.

4. Timeliness and accuracy of data

The confirmed data always differ somewhat from the figures of the preliminary statistics. The ‘preliminary results’ after the election night serve users before the confirmed result is obtained.

The results change once the result is confirmed in all respects: by voting district, municipality, constituency, party and number of votes gained by all candidates and by the elected, whereby even their mutual order may change.

5. Accessibility and transparency/clarity of data

The first data, or preliminary statistics are published on the Internet, in the StatFin service and on the statistics pages on European Parliament elections as soon as possible. Election data by municipality and voting district and the numbers of votes gained by elected members are entered in the StatFin service.

Releases and tables concerning the elections in question are available in three languages (Finnish, Swedish and English) on the statistics pages on European Parliament elections. The second, or final data are supplied to Statistics Finland after the election result is confirmed. After the confirmation of the election result, the confirmed data corresponding to the preliminary statistics are released on the statistics pages and the StatFin databases are updated.

6. Comparability of statistics

The statistical grouping of municipalities (urban, semi-urban and rural) was introduced starting from 1999. Prior to that, municipalities were grouped as follows: towns and other municipalities. Changes in constituencies and municipalities between the elections have been taken into account in statistics that have comparative data with the results of the previous elections.

Election results are presented on the statistics pages on European Parliament elections starting from the first European Parliament elections in 1996. Preliminary statistics on European Parliament elections are released on the statistics pages on the Internet. In addition, the StatFin online service has a time series on European Parliament elections starting from 1996 (NB From 2004 also data by voting district).

7. Coherence and consistency/uniformity and documentation

The Ministry of Justice publishes exhaustive information about different elections and the national candidate register and election result data on its web pages (www.vaalit.fi). The statistics on advance voters published by the Ministry of Justice differ from Statistics Finland’s statistics on advance voters, because they are defined on different grounds:

  • The Ministry of Justice counts the number of advance voters from the number of those entitled to vote, whereas

  • Statistics Finland counts the number of advance voters from the number of all persons who voted.

The classifications used in the statistics can be found on Statistics Finland's website.


Source: European Parliament Elections 2014, Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Sami Fredriksson 029 551 2696, Jaana Asikainen 029 551 3506, vaalit@stat.fi

Director in charge: Jari Tarkoma


Updated 5.6.2019

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): European Parliament elections [e-publication].
ISSN=1798-291X. 2019, European Parliament elections, quality description . Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 18.7.2019].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/euvaa/2019/euvaa_2019_2019-06-05_laa_001_en.html