Municipal elections The government fears a sudden coronavirus will land in Finland, but the municipal elections will still be held on time – the election director fears that the turnout will collapse

“I would say February is the time to postpone the election. Parties must submit candidate lists to central election commissions on March 9th. In that case, you should know in practice whether the election is a little over a month or not, ”says Arto Jääskeläinen, Election Director of the Ministry of Justice.

22.1. 11:40

Finland the government fears that a sudden coronavirus variant will soon strike Finland. Nevertheless, postponing the municipal elections seems unlikely at the moment, says the election director of the Ministry of Justice Arto Jääskeläinen In an interview with HS.

“The line between us and the government at the moment is that the elections will be held on April 18, but yes, we are constantly monitoring the situation,” says Jääskeläinen.

The timing of the municipal elections is, in practice, a political decision. If the election were postponed, it would require a change in the law. The government should therefore first make the bill and then Parliament should approve it.

“I would say February is the time to postpone the election. Parties must submit candidate lists to central election commissions on March 9th. Then, in practice, one should know at the latest whether the election is a little over a month or not, ”says Jääskeläinen.

“However, this is pure speculation, the policy of us and the government is that the election will be held normally.”

From Britain widespread coronavirus variant has increased the number of coronavirus infections in many countries. The virus infects much faster, for example, than a virus that spreads in the spring.

Jääskeläinen says the government or civil servants have no ready plans to postpone the election.

“We don’t have any weird plans in advance, but suddenly they will emerge if there is a need.”

If elections are held as planned, they will be held at traditional expense. There is no longer enough time to introduce remote or other electronic voting methods.

“Voting methods cannot be changed with this timetable. The online vote was investigated in 2017 and that is when the working group came to the conclusion that it has more risks than benefits. I would say that it is very far away even under normal circumstances. ”

Although should the elections be held on schedule, the coronary virus situation will almost certainly change the election campaign. Interim requirements and recommendations to avoid large crowds do not fit well with the traditional election campaign, where candidates meet voters at market events, for example.

The still life favors seated municipal councilors as well as skilled social media users.

Jääskeläinen admits that this can be a real problem for democracy. He is particularly concerned about what is already happening to the already low turnout in the municipal elections.

“It is precisely the lack of an election campaign and traditional election communication that is quite a clear problem for me. If it only works online, then there are dangers precisely in terms of turnout. ”

Turku Docent of Political History at the University Ville Pernaa barrel In his HS guest pen writing on Friday postponement of municipal elections. Pernaa justified his demand with uncertainties related to the reform of social and health services. In Perna’s view, it is genuinely unclear whether social and health services will be available to the next-elected delegates for a year, two or the entire four-year term.

“Due to the uncertainty related to the Sote reform, the elections should be postponed so that the municipal elections will be held at the same time as the provincial elections in early 2022. This would improve the quality of Finnish local government in many ways,” Pernaa writes.

“Simultaneous delivery of elections would save at least 17 million euros in one fell swoop. It costs so much to hold elections in Finland. Only fools use the amount twice in a year, when one item of expenditure would be successful. ”

Pernaa was the director of the Center for Parliamentary Research in 2007–2014 and then the editor-in-chief of Suomen Kuvalehti until the end of 2019.

Jääskeläinen considers Perna’s idea to be “sensible in itself”.

“If the elections were postponed because of the corona, they would have to be postponed for at least half a year, but it was a sensible idea that the postponed elections would not be held until January 2022.

However, Jääskeläinen considers the idea to be a bit “floating”, because in the absence of legislation, there is also no complete certainty that the regional elections will be held as planned in January 2022.

But what about Perna’s basic message that it makes no sense to hold elections now that it is not yet known exactly where the municipal councilors will decide?

“There may be a hint in the guesswork, but this is a political issue, so I won’t take a closer look at it.”

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