Parliamentary elections have traditionally been more interesting to media and public attention, which is also reflected on the polling percentage. There is a huge gap in the polling percentage between national and European parliament elections in Finland, where 70% of the people vote in national elections but only 30% vote in European Parliament elections. The proximity of the two elections might affect the polling percentage in the European Parliament elections as the campaigning and media attention focused only on European Parliament elections is reduced to a couple of weeks.
Parliamentary elections provided a historical result as none of the parties gained over 20% of the votes. The top three parties were all within 0.7 percent: Social Democrats (S&D) 17.7%, the Finns Party (ECR) 17.5% and the National Coalition Party (EPP) 17.0%.
This spring we will have the election for European parliament simultaneously with negotiations about the new national government and its programme for the next four years. It is expected that the negotiations will be challenging for each of the party leaders, thus making it more challenging for them to take part in the ongoing campaigns for the European parliamentary elections. It is also probable that the negotiations will steal the spotlight when it comes to media attention.
We must also take into consideration Finland’s third EU Presidency period, which begins on 01 July 2019. We might or might not have a new national government by then, and in any case, most of the ministers will be new to their positions. They will face the struggle of having to adapt to their new positions at the national level but also be the leader to their ministry at the European level.
Another challenge concerning this “super spring” is the polling percentage of the young population. Only 10% of the Finnish youth voted in the last European parliamentary elections. However, we might be facing a change for this worrisome situation. A research conducted in Finland shows that the youth are expressing an increasingly strong interest in politics for the first time in ages. This is most probably because the youth have seen what consequences has their lack of interest in voting had; two examples of this are Trump’s election and Brexit. In addition, over 70% of the Finnish youth state to be worried about climate change. We have witnessed a school strike inspired by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg in Finland and hope that this political movement will encourage young people to vote.
Now at the time of writing, it is still unclear what will happen with Brexit. However, if Great Britain leaves the EU as planned and will not end up participating in the European Elections, Finland will get an additional MEP. The National Coalition Party has been throughout the history the biggest party in European parliamentary elections in Finland. This leaves us with hopes of gaining an extra representative. We really hope it would be a younger MEP this time!