Only 260 candidates under the age of 30 are running in the upcoming Finnish parliamentary elections in spring 2023, making up just 10.7% of all candidates. This means that young candidates are once again underrepresented in candidate selection, as 18-29-year-olds make up 13.9% of Finland's population. The Green Party put forth the highest number of young candidates, both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of their total candidates.
While the number of young candidates has increased slightly since the 2019 parliamentary elections, where there were 259 under-30 candidates (10.5% of all candidates), only eight of these candidates (4% of all elected MPs) were successful in gaining a seat in parliament.
In the upcoming 2023 parliamentary elections, the Green Party has put forth the most young candidates with 37. They are followed by the Center Party with 30 and the Left Alliance with 27. In contrast, the Movement Now party has only put forth nine young candidates, while the Finns Party has only put forth ten. These two parties also have the lowest percentage of young candidates at just 5%, while the Green Party has the highest at 17%.
The lack of young candidates is particularly surprising for the Finns Party, as the party is popular among young voters. According to a survey conducted by Helsingin Sanomat, the Finns Party is the preferred party among first-time young voters in the upcoming elections.
"Political parties and our society as a whole have a lot of room for improvement if young people continue to be underrepresented in candidate lists from one election to the next. For the future of democracy, it is essential that we have young decision-makers, which requires us to nominate more young candidates. Without young people, we will not have future decision-makers - or future voters, if faith in democracy is eroded at a young age. A wise party thinks ahead and includes young people now," demands Silja Uusikangas, an expert in youth participation.
Young voices need to be heard in parliament
As with all decision-making positions, young people are also underrepresented in parliament. Currently, the average age of MPs is 50 years old. While 18-29-year-olds make up 13.9% of the population, there is only one MP in that age group at the end of this parliamentary term: Iiris Suomela (Green), who is 28 years old.
Although decisions made in parliament affect young people's lives in many ways, young people's voter turnout is often lower than other age groups. This may be partly due to the relatively small number of young candidates.
"To increase young people's voter turnout, we need young candidates who can also appeal to young voters. Currently, many young people find it difficult to find a suitable candidate or party," stresses Uusikangas.
The parliamentary elections will be held on Sunday, April 2, 2023, and will elect MPs for the parliamentary term 2023-2027. Early voting is available domestically from March 22-28 and abroad from March 22-25.