Counting votes

Hank W. is generally the best of the Finland for Thought crew when it comes to commenting on Finnish politics, but his post on election reform left something to be said.

There is a proposal into forming Finland into one or fewer electoral districts, mainly due to the fact that as the population has massed to the cities, the popular vote is valued differently in different district. So the vote of a person living in a small county weighs less than the vote of a person living in a populous city, thus conflicting the Constitutional principle of equality. Or say in the last elections Cronberg of the Greens didn't get into parliament from North Karelia (she is a minister though) even she had 8000 votes, while a True Finn Ruohonen-Lerner who got in from Porvoo with a mere thousand votes. Discrepancy? Maybe.

The number of MPs from an electoral district is proportional to the number of people living in the district, or at least about as close as it can be. This part of the system works pretty well. The real impetus for election reform is that some districts are now so small that their seats can't be divided between parties fairly. Parties need an unreasonably high percentage of the vote to elect even a single MP in low population districts, while in the big (and still growing) electoral districts a much smaller vote percentage is enough to win a seat.

As for Ruohonen-Lerner versus Cronberg, mentioning it doesn't make much sense in this context. The proposals mentioned in the media wouldn't do anything about the current open list system. Further, Cronberg was from a small district, received many votes, and wasn't elected; Ruohonen-Lerner was from a big district, received fewer votes, and was elected. This surely can't be used as an example of how votes cast in small districts count for more.

The real problem, and the one the reform is supposed to address, is the uneven way in which parties are treated in different sized districts. To use the previous case as an example, no Green League candidate was elected from Cronberg's district even though the party received 12 percent of the vote there, whereas True Finn party chair Timo Soini and Ruohonen-Lerner were both elected with six percent of the vote in their much more populous district.

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