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Finnish municipal elections will be postponed until 13 June

Finnish municipal elections will be postponed until 13 June

For the health and safety of the voters, the Finnish government has decided to push the date for local elections

On Saturday, 6 March, the Finnish government announced that the local municipal elections will be postponed from 18 April to 13 June. In a press conference, the Minister of Justice Anna-Maja Henriksson explained that the postponement is owed to the surge in COVID cases.

THL predictions

While the Minister of Justice explained that it would have been possible to hold the elections, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) did not deem it safe. More specifically, they estimated that the number of infections on 18 April could potentially be in the range of 2,600-11,200. In other words, it would be too risky to hold the elections on this date.

Beside presenting risks to the health of citizens, an 18 April election could also be viewed as less legitimate. People may be discouraged from voting out of fear that they may contract the virus at polling stations. Therefore, a low voter turnout may raise questions regarding the validity of the elections.

In contrast to this, it is expected that the majority of vulnerable individuals will have taken the COVID vaccine by 13 June. This means that more people will feel comfortable to show up and vote.

Objections

While nine out of ten parliamentary parties voted in favour of the postponement, the Finns Party strongly objected. On his Twitter profile, the party secretary Simo Grönroos claimed that the elections must not be postponed. More specifically, he stressed that despite COVID, elections continue to be held all around the world.

This objection was dismissed as the Minister of Justice noted that the government’s decisions are based on the situation in Finland, not the rest of the world. Thus, to ensure the safety of the voters – as well as an appropriate voter turnout – the government will reschedule the elections for 13 June.

At the time of writing, Finland has reported 62,063 COVID cases and 767 deaths.

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