What makes a successful candidate in the Finnish open-list proportional electoral system?


This chapter inspects the impact of candidates personal vote-earning attributes in Finnish parliamentary elections. The Finnish candidate-oriented electoral system incites not only a high-level competition between different parties but also candidates running for election on the same party list. Winning a seat requires candidates to accrue personal votes to obtain a high intra-party list ranking. To obtain votes candidates are expected to emphasize personal traits and attributes that voters are likely to find attractive. First part of the chapter focuses on descriptive patterns of the development of changes in candidates personal vote-earning attributes, using candidate register data from two time periods (1975–2019 and 1999–2019). The descriptive results highlight the increase in representation of women and show an increase of local councillors as members of parliament. The second part of the chapter explains intra-party candidate vote-winning by utilizing register data on candidates electoral fortunes, personal attributes, and contextual data. The results show especially influential effects on vote-earning in political experience variables (e.g., incumbency) and campaign spending. The Finnish electoral system provides an advantage for well-known and established candidates.

Political behaviour in contemporary Finland : Studies of voting and campaigning in a candidate oriented political system
Veikko Isotalo
Veikko Isotalo
PhD candidate in Political Science

My research interests include VAAs, data science and electoral research.