COMMENTARY: The south decides the outcome of elections
By Matti Wiberg
The autumn’s municipal elections will determine who will wield power in Finland’s various communities for the next four years.
Those elected represent the people, each in their own districts.
All politics is regional. Hence it is also good to know where the country’s population is located. The Finns are anything but evenly distributed across their homeland.
The municipal councils are elected individually in each municipality, but large masses of the population concentrate in only a small area of the country.
In the large province of Lapland, stretching over nearly 100,000 square kilometres, there are only about the same number of residents as in the city of Turku, currently ranked 5th of finland's cities, with roughly 180,000 inhabitants.
The support for Finland’s various political parties varies greatly between different areas of the country.
People are disappearing from the traditional rural strongholds of the Centre Party in the north and east. The core areas of the National Coalition Party, in turn, continue to witness population growth.
This population distribution development has plenty of political implications.
Finland’s population midpoint, in other words the point from which the combined distance to all the country’s inhabitants is the shortest possible, lies noticeably far south in what is after all a long country.
Between 1970 and 2011 the population median has migrated around 30 kilometres southwest to Hauho in Hämeenlinna.
In elections, the number of given votes is what matters.
Votes can only be received where there are people entitled to vote.
One can only get a lot of votes where there are a lot of those eligible to vote. Increasingly, it is the south that decides matters.
Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 30.7.2012
More on this subject:
Finland’s geometric population centre has been redefined