Who turns out to vote?
With coronavirus surging, Finland decided to postpone the municipal elections to June. Let’s hope the election weather is good on 13 June, that is a dry, cloudy summer’s day and the temperature 17 degrees Celsius. Of course it is factors other than the weather that influence voting.
Statistics Finland has done a review of voting in the 2017 municipal elections (in Finnish). It shows that women were more active than men in turning out to vote. For many men, their route to the polling booth is mainly paved with good intentions.
The Statistics Finland review shows that voter turnout is lower among groups including the unemployed and those with lower levels of education. Single parents are less likely to vote than couples. Those on high incomes are more likely to vote than those on low incomes. Turnout is lower in foreign-language groups, and for Swedish-speakers it is higher. The review also reveals that 24.9 per cent of those with a foreign background voted in the 2017 municipal elections, i.e. only one in four.
"The people who vote are the ones whose position in society is already strong."
The fact is that decisions reflect the voice of those who cast their vote and get their representatives elected. Voter turnout has declined over time, which means that the voice of the less well-off in society is reflected less in policy-making. The people who vote are the ones whose position in society is already strong. As a result the decisions that affect us all favour the better-off.
Last November, PAM asked working-age Finns about their intentions regarding the municipal elections. The material collected by TNS Kantar shows men’s good intentions regarding the elections. The survey indicates that in November working-age men were more interested in the upcoming municipal elections than women were. We also asked about voting intentions, and here there was no significant difference between men and women. Hopefully men’s voting intentions won’t melt like an ice lolly in sunshine when the municipal elections come along in June.
The material collected by TNS Kantar indicates that managers are more likely to vote than blue-collar workers. Within trade unions, Akava members turn out to vote more than SAK members. This difference is likely associated with education, income and professional status. Voting intentions among non-organised workers are at the same level as for SAK members.
Among respondents to the PAM survey in November, a full 71 per cent said they intended to vote in the municipal elections in 2021. If this translates into actual turnout, that would be a very high figure. Mind-blowing in fact. Voter turnout in the 2017 municipal elections was a frustratingly low 58.8%.
The last time turnout in municipal elections was over 70 per cent was in 1992. Then there was a turning point when unemployment got out of hand and income inequality increased. People’s overall destinies went in different directions and part of the population fell silent in elections.
I believe that PAM members will indeed turn out to vote in the June municipal elections. The elections will once again decide whose interests municipalities will prioritise – those who already have or those who actually need.
You can take a look at PAM’s municipal election themes here.