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Municipal elections, quality description

1. Relevance of statistical information

Statistics Finland produces official statistics from municipal elections containing central data on the candidates, elected councillors, those entitled to vote, those who voted and support gained by the parties. Statistics Finland's statistics pages on municipal elections also provide analyses on the backgrounds of the candidates and the elected, support gained by the parties, and as separate services the election map service and the StatFin online service.

Municipal elections are held every four years on the fourth Sunday in October. In the municipalities of the autonomous territory of the Åland Islands elections are also arranged every four years, but one year ahead of those in Mainland Finland. 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). In municipal elections advance voting was possible abroad for the first time in 2000.

The first act concerning municipal elections was enacted in 1917. With the revision of election legislation in 1998 all provisions on elections were collected into one single act, the Elections Act (714/1998), which entered into force on 8 October 1998. The provisions concerning municipal elections are included in it and in the Local Government Act 365/1995.

All elections in Finland are held following the principles below:

  • 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 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. A universal franchise signifies that the right to vote only depends on requirements which citizens usually fulfil. An equal franchise means that every person entitled to vote has an equal right to influence the election results, i.e. everyone has the same number of votes. 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 presidential elections).

Entitled to vote in municipal elections are:

  1. Citizens of Finland or another Member State of the European Union as well as of Iceland and Norway who have reached the age of 18 not later than on the day of the election, and whose municipality of residence, as defined by law, is the municipality in question on the 51st day before election day, and

  2. Other foreigners who have reached the age of 18 not later than on the day of the election, and whose municipality of residence, as defined by law, is the municipality in question on the 51st day before election day, and who at that time have had a municipality of residence in Finland for an uninterrupted period of two years.

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

Eligible as candidates in municipal elections are persons,

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

  2. who are entitled to vote in municipal elections in some municipality, and

  3. who are not under guardianship (legally incompetent).

In municipal elections candidates can be nominated by parties and by voters' associations formed by at least ten persons entitled to vote in the municipality. Voters' associations may form a joint list and parties an electoral alliance. A voters' association can have only one candidate. Parties, electoral alliances and joint lists may nominate a number of candidates equalling the number of councillors to be elected multiplied by one and a half. The central election committee compiles a combined list of candidates in which the candidates of all parties, voters' 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 and title, profession or position.

The number of councillors elected depends on the population of the municipality. According to Section 10 of the Local Government Act (365/1995), the number of councillors varies as follows:

The number of councillors elected depends on the population of the municipality

Population No. of councillors
at most 2,000 17*
2,001 - 4,000 21
4,001 - 8,000 27
8,001 - 15,000 35
15,001 - 30,000 43
30,001 - 60,000 51
60,001 - 120,000 59
120,001 - 250,000 67
250,001 - 400,000 75
more than 400,000 85
* The municipality may decide that the number
of councillors elected will be 13 or 15.

Changes in constituencies and municipalities and consolidations of municipalities concerning elections of different years are presented in the Classifications section of the Internet home page of the statistics and in the conventional paper publication Municipal 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). The changes in municipalities entering into force at the beginning of the year following the elections are taken into account in the statistics on municipal elections, because the elections are held following the coming municipal division. 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 every five years in connection with population censuses and on the data thus obtained about the population living in urban settlements.

  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.

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.

Statistics Finland receives basic election data from the Ministry of Justice's election information system, the technical implementation of which it has assigned to TietoEnator Group.

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 working order names the Population Statistics unit as the producer of election statistics (Statistics Finland's working order, TK-00-1756-01).

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 information system consisting of six subsystems. They 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 contains of all entitled to vote the data (e.g. name, personal identity code, constituency, municipality of residence and polling station) included in the Population Information System on the 51st day prior to the election day. The voting register gains legal force on the 12th day before the election day at 12 noon;

  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/voters' 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. Statistics and information service 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.

The analysis is based on the candidate register (Ministry of Justice) and on the results of the preliminary calculation as well as on Statistics Finland's employment statistics data.

The analysis is based on the data derived from the voting register (Population Register Centre and Ministry of Justice) and on the results of the preliminary calculation as well as on Statistics Finland's employment statistics data.

3. Correctness and accuracy of data

The basic data of the statistics are based on the Ministry of Justice's election information system and data supplied by the election authorities, which can be considered reliable.

4. Correctness 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, whereby even their mutual order may change.

5. Accessibility and transparency/clarity of data

The preliminary statistics are published on the Internet, in the StatFin online service and on the statistics pages on municipal elections as soon as possible starting from the election night. Election data by municipality and voting district (from 2004) and the numbers of votes gained by elected councillors are entered in the StatFin online service.

On the municipal elections pages there are in three languages (Finnish, Swedish and English) reviews and time series tables in addition to the tables concerning the elections in question. The second data, or the 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 the Internet and the StatFin databases are updated.

Key election results on municipal elections have been issued in the election map service.

A conventional paper publication is also produced on the municipal elections (the publication also presents results for the municipal elections in the autonomous territory of the Åland Islands).

The chargeable ALTIKA regional database contains results on municipal elections since 1976.

6. Comparability of statistics

The municipal classification of the year following the election year is used in the statistics. The new statistical grouping of municipalities (urban, semi-urban and rural) was taken into use from 2000. 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 municipal elections pages since 1921. Preliminary statistics on municipal elections have been released on the Internet since 1992. In addition, the StatFin online service has a time series on municipal elections as from 1976 (NB From 2004 also data by voting district). The database tables on Municipal elections 2004 and 2008 will be published in three languages (Finnish, Swedish and English). The paper publication Municipal elections contains recurrent time series updated with the result data of the elections in question and individual tables concerning those elections and the so-called basic table by municipality for the election year that has comparative data from the previous elections. Publications of different years contain information on possible changes compared with the previous elections, for example in constituencies and municipalities.

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 homepages.


Source: Municipal Elections 2008, Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Eeva Heinonen 09 1734 3268, Kimmo Moisio 09 1734 3239

Director in charge: Jari Tarkoma


Updated 30.9.2008

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Municipal elections [e-publication].
ISSN=2323-1114. Nomination of candidates 2008, Municipal elections, quality description . Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 25.6.2022].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/kvaa/2008/01/kvaa_2008_01_2008-09-30_laa_001_en.html