The Report and Recommendation further to the observation of the local elections held in Finland on 9 April this year were discussed and adopted on 19 October at the 33rd Plenary Session of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe. The elections took place in the particular context of the current regionalisation reform in the country which entails important changes at the regional but also at the local level.
According to the report presented by Rapporteur Lelia HUNZIKER (Switzerland, SOC), voting was held – with the exception of a some minor issues – in a very professional manner and was characterized by a high level of citizen trust in the electoral processes and the administration. “We should first and foremost congratulate Finland for granting only individuals who are permanently residing in a specific municipality the right to vote at the local level. This is in line with Congress’ Recommendation 369 (2015)”, the Rapporteur underlined. The Congress also welcomes the important degree of transparency, the well-established voter registration and the efforts made by Finnish authorities to strengthen the position of female candidates through gender quotas on candidates’ lists.
Consequently, the report draws attention to issues to be considered to achieve further democratic progress that include the promotion of participation of regional political parties and lists of independent candidates, as well as the introduction of mandatory training for all members of the election administration to ensure a consistent level of knowledge about procedures. Last not least, the Congress is very keen on seeing that the ongoing regional administrative reform will lead to real decentralisation at the regional level.
Renate ZIKMUND, Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Head of the Division of Local and Regional Election Observation, Phone: + 33 659 786 455, email: Renate.ZIKMUND@coe.int:
** 33rd Session of the Congress **