The election candidates promotional posters on the side of the road in Kirkkojärvi, Espoo on the 20th of March 2023. LEHTIKUVA


The proportion of women among the candidates for the 2023 Finnish parliamentary elections is higher than ever before, according to a press release from the Finnish Statistics Centre. Women now account for 42.9% of candidates, which is 0.9 percentage points higher than the previous election in 2019. The majority of candidates in past elections have always been male, but now there are 1,039 female candidates compared to 1,385 male candidates.

The increase in women’s participation in parliamentary elections started in the 1970s, with the percentage of female candidates exceeding 40% for the first time in the 1991 elections. Since then, the percentage has hovered around 40% for a long time, but it has now surpassed that threshold in the 2019 and 2023 elections.

The percentage of female candidates varies by political party. The Green Party has the highest proportion of female candidates at 60.8%, while Liike Nyt has the lowest at 34.5%. In addition to the Green Party, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the Left Alliance have more female than male candidates. The feminist party has the highest percentage of female candidates at 84.6%, while the Citizen's Party has none. Overall, 47.5% of all candidates for parliamentary elections belong to women. In political parties and electoral alliances that did not elect representatives in the 2019 elections, the percentage of female candidates is 30.6%.

The proportion of female candidates has increased in about half of the political parties, with the SDP showing the most significant increase of nearly 7 percentage points, while the Swedish People's Party (RKP) had the largest decline of over 6 percentage points.

The proportion of foreign-language speakers among all candidates for the 2023 parliamentary elections is 2.8%. Of these, nearly 60% are running in the Helsinki or Uusimaa constituencies. The Left Alliance has the highest proportion of foreign-language speakers among its candidates, at 7.4%. Among all eligible voters, 5.2% are Swedish speakers, and 3.1% speak languages other than Finnish or Swedish.

The number and proportion of eligible foreign-language voters have steadily increased during the past few parliamentary elections. The number has risen from just under 50,000 in the 2011 elections to over 132,000. However, the trend for candidates is not as clear-cut. As the numbers of foreign-language candidates are relatively small, chance can also influence changes between individual elections," says Wallenius.

Of the candidates with a foreign background, 2.6% are of foreign origin, while 3.2% of eligible voters are of foreign origin. However, the proportion of people with a foreign background in the entire population of Finland is higher because only Finnish citizens are eligible to vote and run for parliament. For example, in 2021, 8.5% of the population living in Finland had a foreign background.

Among parliamentary parties, the Left Alliance has the highest proportion of candidates with a foreign background, at 7.4% of the party's candidates, while Liike Nyt, the Finns Party, the Christian Democrats, and the Centre Party have the lowest proportions.