Finland 2019

The Finnish parliamentary election is today. The expectation from pre-election polling is that the center-left parties may make gains. The result may be close enough for regional variance in party strengths to matter to the outcome, as was the case in 2007. Since then, the electoral system has been modified slightly, with some smaller-magnitude districts merged. Thus regional variance should not matter as much as it did then.

The system is districted open-list PR, so candidates matter greatly, and the system permits multiparty alliance lists (which need not have the same combinations in all districts).

(A more substantial electoral reform, with nationwide compensation, was proposed after 2007. But it did not pass.)

9 thoughts on “Finland 2019

  1. Having finally uploaded the preliminary results of Sunday’s Eduskunta election to my website’s Finland page, I thought I might as well run a notional allocation of the 199 seats in Finland proper under the electoral reform proposal of almost a decade ago. Under the reformed system, which provided for an initial nationwide distribution of seats by the D’Hondt rule with a 3% threshold, the distribution of seats in this year’s election would have been as follows (with numbers in parentheses indicating seat gains or losses with respect to the actual outcome):

    Social Democratic Party of Finland – 38 (-2)
    Finns Party – 38 (-1)
    National Coalition Party – 36 (-2)
    Center Party of Finland – 29 (-2)
    Green League – 24 (+4)
    Left Alliance – 17 (+1)
    Swedish People’s Party in Finland – 9 (+0)
    Christian Democrats in Finland – 8 (+3)
    Movement Now – 0 (-1)

    In all, the changes would have been fairly modest: while the smaller parties would have been the clear beneficiaries of the proposed reform, no party would have gained or lost more than four seats, or two percent of the total number of mandates. The Swedish People’s Party would have neither gained nor lost seats, due to the fact that its vote is concentrated almost exclusively in four coastal districts and therefore is not adversely affected by districted PR. Meanwhile, the Green League would have gained four seats, partly because under the existing system the Greens missed a seat in Lapland by the narrowest of margins, polling 9,705 votes to 9,712.33 for the third quotient of the Center Party, which won the constituency’s last mandate. Finally, Movement Now would have obtained no seats under the proposed reform because it would have fallen short of the nationwide threshold; under the current system it secured one seat in Uusimaa, and came within 454 votes of winning another in Helsinki.

    • Very interesting lesson in how districted vs. nationwide makes a difference! Even if they are not large differences, they would matter in such a fragmented system.

      Thank you, Manuel!

  2. The coalition formation will be interesting, to say the least. The left-of-center parties gained 15 seats from the center-right for a total of 76 seats.

    However, the Centre Party has said it is looking to be in opposition for the next four years. That leaves no viable centrist partner for the left-of-center parties, as my understanding is that the NCP is considerably to the right of the Centre Party (though that could be a misinterpretation). It also means that there is no viable right-of-center coalition (though assuming that the cordon sanitaire held against the Finns Party, that was unlikely to happen anyway).

    This leave a “grand” coalition between the Social Democrats and NCP as the only viable option, and even that wouldn’t be particularly grand as it would hold just 78 seats and need two other parties to form a government.

    Even if the left-of-center tried to form a minority administration, they’d need 25 ad hoc votes to pass legislation.

    Unless the left-of-center can get the Centre into the fold, or unless the three largest non-extremist parties can form a true coalition (which I can only see benefiting the Finns in the long run), Finland may need to hold new elections.

    • I believe Finland has some experience with broad coalitions. After the 2011 elections, a coalition between the NCP, the SDP, the Greens, the Left Alliance, the Swedish People’s Party, and the Christian Democrats formed the government, and as I understand it that is not an atypical situation.

      • Yeah, upon further research it actually looks like the SDP and NCP have been in coalition together for 16 of the 32 years since 1987, against 12 years of center-right governments with Centre and NCP (though for 4 of those years the Greens were in the coalition) and just 4 years of SDP-Centre government.

        Doesn’t mean coalition formation will be easy, but it is considerably more common than it would be in most other countries with a similar 3-4 party system.

    • I have the vague idea that, today, NCP is more to the right than the Center party in economic issues but perhaps to the left in social issues (being the NCP a party of the urban upper and upper-middle classes and Center an agrarian party).

  3. It’s ironic that the Finnish election result is far more fragmented and unclear than the Israeli election result. The largest party has 17.7% of the vote in Finland and Israel at 26.46%.

  4. Apparently, a SDP-Centre coalition is called a “red-soil” coalition (punamultahallitus; the Centre Party was formerly the Agrarian League, hence the “soil”). A sateenkaarihallitukset is a “rainbow coalition” and refers to a coalition with members across the spectrum (it was first used for a coalition with the three left-wing factions, the Swedish People’s Party, and the NCP,–what wouldn’t be surprising to see this year).

    There has not been a true “grand coalition” since 1958, when the Agrarians, NCP and Social Democrats united to block the communist-led Finnish People’s Democratic League (the ancestor to the Left Alliance), which had won the most seats, from forming the government.

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