The municipal council is elected by direct secret vote of the residents for four year terms. The number of councillors is proportional to the population of the municipality and may vary from 17 to 85. The law provides that in municipalities with a population of less than 2,000, the council may decide that the number of councillors to be elected is 15 or 13, which is the minimum.
In the municipal elections of 2008, the number of elected council members totalled 10,412. Municipal mergers and changes in population will result in a decrease in the number of councillors over the next few years.
Entitled to vote in municipal elections are citizens of Finland, European Union Member States, Iceland and Norway who have reached the age of 18 not later than on the day of the election, as well as citizens of other countries who have reached the age of 18 not later than on the day of the election and have been domiciled in Finland for at least two years. Candidates may be nominated by political parties and constituency associations.
There has been a significant decline in the voting turnout in municipal elections in Finland in the last few decades. The municipal elections of 2000 saw the lowest voting turnout ever (55.9%). However, there was some improvement in this respect in the 2004 election, and 58.6% of eligible voters used their vote. In the 2008 election, the voting turnout was 61.3%.
Voting turnout (%) in Finnish municipal elections:
- Elections 1992 70.9 %
- Elections 1996 61.3 %
- Elections 2000 55.9 %
- Elections 2004 58.6 %
- Elections 2008 61.3 %