General Synod elections: 60 new representatives and reformist majority

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland’s General Synod representatives for the next four-year term have been elected. With 60 new representatives, almost two-thirds (63%) of the General Synod’s elected representatives are first-timers. A considerable number of synod representatives who were up for re-election lost their seat. The greatest turnover rate was seen in the dioceses of Tampere and Kuopio.

Of the newly elected representatives, 49 are men (2020: 53) and 45 are women (2020: 42). Women won the majority in the Espoo and Mikkeli dioceses.
The youngest representative is 29 years old and the oldest 74. The average age of the newly elected representatives is 54 (2020: 54).
Liberal electoral associations won a narrow majority (51%) of the seats. Liberals won the majority of the clergy seats in most dioceses and the majority of the lay seats in the dioceses of Helsinki, Espoo and Porvoo.

Researcher Veli-Matti Salminen of the Church Institute for Research and Advanced Training commented on the election results:

“The turnover in the General Synod was considerable: only 34 of the current synod representatives were re-elected. Women gained more seats than in the previous elections, evening out the gender distribution. The power structure between liberals and conservatives flipped in favour of liberals. Among a motley of electoral associations, liberals stood out with their familiar slogans, such as Tulkaa kaikki (‘Come All’), Avara kirkko (‘Open Church’) and Muutoksen tuuli (‘Wind of Change’), whose message of equality resonated with people.”

Results confirmed

The election committees confirmed the results on 19 February.
A total of 64 lay representatives and 32 clergy representatives are elected in General Synod elections. The lay representatives are elected by representatives from the parish councils, parish boards and parish union boards, who number about 7200 in all. The Sámi Parliament of Finland also appoints one lay representative for the Sámi people. The clergy representatives are elected by the clergy at meetings held by the county dean for each diocese. In the 2024 elections, the total number of clergy eligible to vote was a little over 5000.

The General Synod is the Church’s highest decision-making body, and it makes key decisions relating to the Church’s doctrine and ministry. It is also broadly responsible for the legislation, administration and finances of the Church. The four-year term of the newly elected General Synod and diocesan boards will be from 1 May 2024 to 30 April 2028. The new General Synod will convene for its first week of meetings in Turku from 13 to 17 May.

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