MEP Merja Kyllönen, an ex-Minister of Transport, has stated that she will return from Brussels to Helsinki if she wins election to both the Finnish Parliament and European Parliament. (Miika Manninen – Handout)

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A DEBATE HAS ERUPTED over the tendency of political parties to nominate the same candidate for election to both the Finnish Parliament and the European Parliament.

The Left Alliance, in particular, has come under criticism for having its high-profile members stand as candidates in both elections. Merja Kyllönen (Left Alliance), who won a seat in the Finnish Parliament on Sunday, told Kainuun Sanomat before the elections that if she is elected to both parliaments she will return from Brussels to Helsinki.

Hanna Sarkkinen, a deputy chairperson of the Left Alliance, was announced as a candidate in the upcoming elections yesterday, despite her already securing a seat in the Finnish Parliament. “I’m running primarily to campaign for the party and help it to an election victory. This is a joint effort,” she admitted to Kansan Uutiset on Wednesday.

Sarkkinen told Helsingin Sanomat that she does not yet know whether she would take up a seat in the European Parliament.

Both Kyllönen and Sarkkinen are reportedly canvassing for Silvia Modig, who was announced as a candidate in the upcoming elections a day after she failed to win re-election to the Finnish Parliament.

“Sounds like they’re purely fishing for votes,” Ilkka Ruostersaari, a professor of political science at the University of Tampere, commented to Iltalehti.

He pointed out that such a nomination strategy makes sense for parties but not necessarily for voters. “They’re using what I suppose could be called rabbits. When the whole country is one electoral district, you need well-known candidates. With their help, you try to raise the tally of the whole party to make sure at least someone gets through.”

“Not all voters may know that Kyllönen, for example, has promised [not to take up a seat in the European Parliament].”

The Left Alliance is hardly the only party to nominate the same candidate for election to both the Finnish Parliament and European Parliament. The party with the highest number of such candidates is the Green League, according to Helsingin Sanomat.

Also Teuvo Hakkarainen (PS) is vying for a seat in the European Parliament, despite winning re-election to the Finnish Parliament on Sunday.

The European Parliament elections are held across the European Union on 23–26 May 2019.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi