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Parish election voter turnout was 14.4%

The parish election committees have now verified the results of the 2018 parish elections. The national turnout percentage totalled 14.4, or 1.1 percentage points lower than in the previous elections in 2014.

The average age of the newly elected representatives was 53.3 years, almost a year younger than the average for the last term. Women make up 54.9% of the elected, and men 45.1%. Almost half (49.2%) of the elected are new representatives.

“Representatives have traditionally had a fairly high average age, so it’s really nice to see that the average age of the newly elected group of representatives is now almost a year lower. We hope that no one age group stands out too much among the decision-makers and that the representatives are as representative of the parishioners as possible," says Hanna Piira, campaign manager for the parish elections.

Of the more than three million Finns who were eligible to vote, almost 440,000 actually turned out for the election.

Kinnula had the most active voters

The most active voters were in Kinnula Parish in the Diocese of Lapua, where the voter turnout was 48.1%. The second-most active parish, with a turnout of 46.8%, was Esse Parish in the Diocese of Porvoo, with Konnevesi Parish in the Diocese of Kuopio taking third place, with a 41.9% turnout.

Of the largest parishes, those with over 30,000 eligible voters, Seinäjoki boasted the most active voters: its turnout was 22.2% (41,522 eligible voters in total). Salo came second, with a 14.3% turnout (33,494 eligible voters), falling just shy of the national level.

Of all parishes, Lauritsala in the Diocese of Mikkeli saw the lowest voter turnout, with only 5.9% of eligible voters casting their vote.

Young people reluctant to vote

The national turnout for 16–17-year-olds was only 8.4% of the eligible voters in that age group. This number is slightly down from the 2014 elections, in which turnout reached 8.9%. Dioceses of Lapua and Oulu had the highest rate of young voter participation.

“The Church took a pioneering role in granting members this young the right to vote in 2010. However, young people in this age group haven’t seemed so eager to make use of this right in this election or previous ones. It is important that the elections have more young candidates. Parishes should also establish and promote other activities in which also these youngest voters can have an influence and participate,” says Veli-Matti Salminen, a researcher with the Church Research Institute.

The greatest increase in voter turnout was seen in the Swedish-speaking parish of Replot, where the turnout rocketed to 26.9%, up from 15.2% in the 2014 elections. The second-greatest increase was seen in Kokemäki Parish, whose turnout rose from 15.8% to 23.6%.

In the parish elections, parishioners elected representatives for the next four-year term of 2019–2022. As of January 2019, Finland will have a total of 385 parishes.