Candidate eligibility and nomination of candidates

Who is eligible to stand as a candidate?

Eligible to stand as a candidate in municipal elections is a person

1) whose municipality of residence the municipality in question is,
2) who is entitled to vote in municipal elections in some municipality, and
3) who is not without legal capacity.

Provisions on the restrictions on candidate eligibility are laid down in section 72 of the Local Government Act.

On 13 October 2020, the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities issued a circular on the eligibility for election to local council (available only in Finnish and Swedish).

When is candidate eligibility determined?

As a rule, the municipality in which a person is eligible to stand as a candidate is determined in the same schedule as the person's voting municipality, in other words in accordance with the information contained in the Population Information System on 26 February 2021 (51st day before election day). However, if a person changes his or her municipality of residence after that date, his or her candidate eligibility changes accordingly.

Example: On 26 February 2021, the candidate's municipality of residence is municipality A. However, the candidate moves to municipality B the following week. The candidate application concerning him or her is submitted to the central municipal election board of municipality B on 9 March. The central municipal election board confirms the nomination of candidates on 18 March. This means that the candidate has the right to vote in municipality A, but stands as a candidate in municipality B.

The legislation contains no explicit provisions concerning the date on which a person’s candidate eligibility is determined, but in practice the question of a candidate's municipality of residence must be clear by 17 March 2021 (32nd day before election day), when the central municipal election boards deal with any supplements to candidate applications delivered to the board and make decisions on them. Decisions relating to a candidate’s municipality of residence are made on the basis of the information contained in the Population Information System.

Who can nominate candidates?

In municipal elections, candidates may be nominated by
1) political parties entered in the Party Register, and
2) constituency associations established by eligible voters.

Each political party has the right to nominate a number of candidates equalling the number of local councillors to be elected in the municipality multiplied by one and a half. For example, if the number of local councillors to be elected in the municipality is 27, a party may nominate at most 40 candidates. Political parties may form electoral alliances. However, the maximum number of candidates that an electoral alliance can nominate is the same as the maximum number of candidates that a single party can nominate.

A constituency association for the nomination of one candidate may be established by a minimum of ten persons who are entitled to vote in the municipality in question. In a municipality with at most 1,500 residents at the end of November preceding the election year, a constituency association may be established by a minimum of three eligible voters. In a municipality with 1,501–2,000 residents, a constituency association may be established by a minimum of five eligible voters. Constituency associations may form joint lists with a maximum number of candidates equalling the number of local councillors to be elected in the municipality multiplied by one and a half.

Submission of candidate applications

Political parties and constituency associations must submit their lists of candidates (candidate applications) to the central municipal election board by 16.00 on 9 March 2021 (40th day before election day) at the latest. The same deadline applies to submitting notifications of electoral alliances and joint lists to the central municipal election board. No later than on 1 March 2021 (48th day before election day), the central municipal election board of each municipality must publish a public notice indicating to whom, on which days, at which times, and where candidate applications and notifications can be delivered. Contact details of the central municipal election boards (in Finnish and Swedish).

When making their candidate applications, political parties and constituency associations may use the forms drawn up in accordance with the model confirmed by the Ministry of Justice. The candidate nomination forms are available in word and PDF format (in Finnish and Swedish).

Compilation of a master list of candidates

The central municipal election board checks the lists of candidates, especially whether the candidates are eligible, and confirms the nomination of candidates on 18 March 2021 (31st day before election day). The central municipal election board compiles a master list of candidates, in which the candidates of all parties, constituency associations and joint lists are listed in an order drawn by lot. The master list includes the number (beginning with number 2), name, and title, profession or position of each candidate. The master list of candidates is displayed in the voting booths, for example.