Pick 6 – Things we learned from the European Parliament elections

There's a lot to digest with the European Parliament results, so here's a quick read of some interesting highlights.

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File graphic for European Parliament elections / Credit: iStock

1. Voter turnout

Voter turnout was up compared with the last election five years ago. In 2015 just 39.1% of eligible voters in Finland, and Finns overseas, cast their votes. According to the EU’s official election results, the figure rose slightly to 40.7% this year.

2. Party mixed fortunes 

Just like any election, party fortunes fluctuated. Compared with the last European Parliament election five years ago the Greens posted the biggest gains, up 6.7% in second place at 16% overall and gaining one extra MEP. The Centre Party saw the biggest drop – mirroring the general election in April – and fell 6.1% to 13.5%, losing one of their MEPs as well. Of the parties which got more than 1% of the vote, there were smaller losses for the Left Alliance, Swedish People’s Party and Christian Democrats; while the Finns Party and Social Democrats both posted modest gains.

3. Most votes / least votes

Social Democrat Eero Heinäluoma was the candidate who got the most votes, with 128,113. The Greens’ Ville Niinistö came second with 111,598. They were the only two candidates who got more than 100,000 votes. The MEP with the lowest number of votes is Teuvo Hakkarainen (Finns) who got just 29,075. Of course there are other candidates who got a lot more than this – like Aura Salla (NCP – 38,514) or Sari Essayah (CD, 53608) but since the number of seats each party wins is allocated proportionately to their share of the overall vote, the Finns Party did well enough across the whole country for Hakkarainen to make it to Brussels, even if he didn’t have a high personal vote count. The candidate with the lowest number of votes is Sami Ronkola from the Seven Star Movement who received just 30 votes.

4. Personal details 

Finland elected seven women MEPs and six men to go to Brussels. They come from seven different political parties, and six of them have been elected to the European Parliament for the first time. The average age of the MEPs is 55-years old; the oldest is 71-year old Mauri Pekkarinen (Centre), and the youngest is 40-year old Laura Huhtasaari (Finns). Most of the MEPs list Finnish, Swedish and English as their language skills, with some adding French, German and Russian as well. One MEP Teuvo Hakkarainen (Finns) lists Finnish as the only language he speaks.

5. Extra Brexit MEP 

If / when Britain leaves the European Union – a process known as Brexit – then Finland will get one more MEP, increasing the total from 13 to 14. The new “Brexit MEP” will be Alviina Alametsä (Green) who will become an MEP for the first time, and also the youngest Finnish MEP aged 26. Alametsä has been working in student politics and also as an adviser to Green party leader Pekka Haavisto.

6. Best voters / lowest voters

Which part of Finland has the most enthusiastic voters? According to turnout figures, Helsinki came out on top with 55.7% of eligible voters turning up at polling stations. A total of 278,019 cast a ballot either in advance, or on election day. Voting was slowest however in Savo-Karelia region with just 36.4% of people turning out to cast 120,208 votes.