Sunday, October 26, 2008

It's Local Election Day!

So, finally today came and I went off down to the main part of town to place my vote in the Local Elections!

My 'Bestist' Friend in the WHOLE of Finland, (Minna) came to pick me up and we drove to the council offices.

Sodankylä (the municipality county region of) is very large, (NO - it's huge) but the central administration of it is only in the very central part of Sodankylä (the small town). The council offices are located on Jäämerentie (Which translates as Arctic Ocean Road) and it's the main drag through the linear town.

Shown above... the Sodankylän Coat of Arms.
The local motto: Under the lucky stars!

I wasn't sure if photographs would be allowed..but they didn't seem to mind it, when asked. I am sure they thought I was a bit dotty.. but Minna explained it was for my blog.. (and hey she is a nutty English woman - so you will have to excuse her!) :D

The Council buildings..

I've been here loads of times for other reasons.. but never to vote.. so I just wanted to see how the Finns did it.. if there was much difference to the UK style.

There are quite a few decorations inside.. mainly wood carvings or stuffed forest animals. This wood carving celebrates the Olympics.

There was a reminder of the candidates list on the door. The top line is in Finnish and underneath it is written in Saami. There were candidates from five parties to vote for in the Sodankylän area... not all parties were represented here. I voted for the second largest party of the area - but that is not one of the top three of the country. One of the Union reps where Mark works, is running again for council..and whilst he is from the same party, I didn't vote for him as I've not met him and don't know him. Where as the lady that I voted for, I DO know personally and am happy to support.

You have to announce yourself, hand in your election invite and get checked off the list. They also check your driving licence or passport for ID. As I don't drive, it was my AWFUL passport photo that they had the pleasure of inspecting! I really don't like my passport photo.

Then I got given a folded piece of paper to take to the booth.

I had expected a printed out piece of paper with all the candidates names on. (Like I've had previously in the UK) but all I had to do was locate the number of my chosen candidate and write that instead! This was probably the only difference to a UK election.

At the last minute, I noticed another name on the candidates list that I recognised. Someone else I know personally.. but I didnt know too much about their party and had already made my decision on whom to vote for by then.

Then I gave my folded up paper to another lady, to stamp with the official electoral stamp. The stamp says in Finnish, 'Election stamp' and shows the Lion emblem from the Finnish Coat of Arms in the centre.

Here is Minna, getting her stamp done and casting her vote!
(And yes.. for those of you have that have seen Minna before in previous blogs - NO, you are not going crazy - YES, she HAS dyed her hair! She used to be blonde!)

This from the website

Election Day for the municipal elections is October 26. Permanent residents and most immigrants are eligible to vote for their local politicians. Local governments determine your health and social services, decide on funding for day care centres, schools and welfare programs, and map out zoning for new construction projects, services and public transportation.

The National Coalition Party leads in voter support for this year's municipal elections, according to a YLE poll taken this month. However the top three parties remain neck and neck.

A new opinion poll suggests an electoral defeat for the Centre Party in this month's local elections. The conservative National Coalition Party leads the field, with the SDP in second place. Support for the small right-of-centre True Finns party has increased the most.

A survey carried out for the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities indicates 73 percent of the Finnish electorate will vote in the upcoming municipal elections. Just over one in ten say they will not cast a vote.

So, it will be interesting to see what happens and the repercussions from the new council members. I am pleased that I took part and used my vote. The voting stops at 8pm today and so overnight the results will come in. If and when I find out the results.. I will let you know who won!