European Parliament elections, quality description

1. Relevance of statistical information

1.1 Summary of the information content of statistics

Statistics Finland produces official statistics from European Parliament elections containing key data on the candidates, elected cpuncillors, 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 are in charge of 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, 25 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.

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.

  • 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 elections everybody has one vote.

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

  • Voting takes place in front of election authorities.

  • 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:

  1. Regardless of the domicile every Finnish citizen who has reached the age of 18 not later that on the day of the election, and

  2. Every citizen of another Member State of the European Union who has reached the age of 18 not later than on the day of the election and whose municipality of residence, as defined by law, is in Finland or who is employed by the European Union or an international organisation or a family member of such a person if he/she resides in Finland and his/her data are stored in the Population Information System as prescribed in the Act on the Population Information System and on the certification services of the Population Register Centre (661/2009). A person who has lost the right to vote based on a decision in a civil or criminal case in the Member State whose citizen he/she is (home Member State) is not, however, eligible to vote.

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.

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 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.

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 parliamentary seats are divided so that the Member States small in population have in relative terms more seats than large Member States. In the 2014 elections a total of 751 members will be elected to the European Parliament from 28 Member State, of whom 13 will be elected from Finland.

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 on amending the Election Act (271/2013) that entered into force on 1 September 2013. In accordance with the transitional provision of the act, the old division into constituencies that includes 15 constituencies will, however, be applied to the 2014 European Parliament elections. Municipalities are placed into constituencies according to the constituency division in force.

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 2013 and the population of the municipality in 2012. 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 2014 are:

  1. Helsinki constituency

  2. Uusimaa constituency

  3. Varsinais-Suomi constituency

  4. Satakunta constituency

  5. Åland constituency

  6. Häme consitituency

  7. Pirkanmaa constituency

  8. Kymi constituency

  9. South Savo constituency

  10. North Savo constituency

  11. North Karelia constituency

  12. Vaasa constituency

  13. Central Finland constituency

  14. Oulu constituency

  15. Lapland constituency

In the European Parliament elections Finland forms one constituency. The candidates stand as candidates in 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 European Parliament elections 2014 by the following registered parties (14/16):
  • The 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)

  • The Finns Party (PS)

  • Independence Party (IP)

  • For the Poor (KA)

  • Pirate Party of Finland

  • Change 2011

  • Blue and White Front r.p (SVR)

  • The Communist Party of Finland (SKP)

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 Region 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-00-1497-12).

2. Methodological description of survey

The statistics are based on census data. The basic data of the statistics are based on the Ministry of Justice's election data system consisting of six subsystems. These are:

  1. Basic data, including data on constituencies, municipalities, voting districts and election authorities;

  2. Data on polling stations (polling station register), including data on general advance polling stations and polling stations on the election day;

  3. Franchise data (voting register) for which data on every person entitled to vote are collected by the Population Register Centre on the 46th day before the election day. The voting register includes of all 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 to the election day. The voting register gains legal force at 12:00 noon on the 12th day prior to the election day;

  4. Data on candidates (candidate register) 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;

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

  6. A 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 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 MEPs 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 on European Parliament elections 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 webpages (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: Kimmo Moisio 029 551 3239, Jaana Asikainen 029 551 3506, vaalit@stat.fi

Director in charge: Riitta Harala


Updated 11.6.2014

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): European Parliament elections [e-publication].
ISSN=1798-291X. 2014, European Parliament elections, quality description . Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 17.9.2019].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/euvaa/2014/euvaa_2014_2014-06-11_laa_001_en.html