Justice Minister Koskinen predicts higher turnout for European Parliament elections than last time
Election posters put up Tuesday night
Finland’s Minister of Justice Johannes Koskinen (SDP) predicts that the voter turnout in Finland in this year’s elections for the European Parliament will rise from the level of five years ago.
"Debate is more intense and the number of candidates is greater than in the elections of 1999", Koskinen said at a press conference in Helsinki on Tuesday.
In the European Parliament elections five years ago, the voter turnout in Finland was an embarrassing 31.4%, the third-lowest in the EU. Only voters in The Netherlands and the UK were lazier than the Finns.
Koskinen lamented the lack of public awareness of the activities of the European Parliament. He feels that more information should be made available about what the Parliament does during its term in office.
In Koskinen’s view one reason to vote in the upcoming elections is the prospect of increased legislative power for the European Parliament. He noted that the proposed new EU constitution would further increase the powers of the Parliament.
There has also been discussion in Finland of when the result of the election should be made public.
Under instructions from the European Commission, the result should be announced at the same time in all EU countries - at 11:00 PM, Finnish time on Sunday, June 13. Sweden has said that it plans to announce its result an hour earlier, and there have been hints in The Netherlands, where voters go to the polls already Thursday, June 10, that the result might be announced already the same evening.
Arto Jääskeläinen, head of elections at the Ministry of Justice, says that if the Dutch flout the Commission’s instructions, Finland might consider announcing its result one hour earlier than planned. However, he says that there is "98% probability" that Finland will adhere to its original plan and announce the result at 11:00 in the evening.
Election posters of the parties contesting the election went up around Finland on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Finnish EU membership sharply divides European Parliament candidates (25.4.2004)
HS Gallup: Supporters of different parties have nearly identical concerns in EU election (24.5.2004)
Most Finnish candidates for EU Parliament open to more free movement of labour (21.5.2004)