5.2 Youth participation in representative democracy
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Young people as voters
The voting age in Finland is 18 years old and there are no special provisions for certain groups of young people. The proposal to lower the voting age has not been actively discussed in parliament and parliament has no official position on the matter. Therefore, there are no imminent plans to lower the voting age. In 2010, the Evangelical Lutheran church has lowered the voting age to 16 in parish council elections.
Voter turnout of young people in local, parliament, presidential or in EU -elections is not systematically documented, but there are some research-based estimations. For example, it has been estimated that in the 2015 parliament elections turnout was 47% among 18 to 24 -year-olds and 58% for 25 to 35 -year-olds (Wass & Borg 2015, 184).
There are no recent statistics regarding voter turnout in referendums (or in the case of Finland, plebiscites, as they are advisory only), as the last referendum was in 1994.
Young people as political representatives
In Finland, membership of a political party is only possible for those who are eligible to vote, as per the Act on Political Parties. A party is a registered association that is entered on the party register kept by the Ministry of Justice. As of April 2020, there are eighteen parties registered, nine of whom are represented at parliament.
Young people over 18 years old can stand as political candidates in local, national and European elections. There is no quota of seats reserved for young people nor are there any provisions aimed at facilitating young people to stand as political candidates.
Seven (3,5%) of the 200 members of the national parliament are under the age of 30 years old during the term 2019-2023. The average age of the representatives is approximately 48 years old. There are no functions within parliament reserved for young people, exclusively.
As of 2017, there are 513 (5.7 %) members under the age of 29 elected to local councils in the municipal elections (Email information from Piipponen 2018). The average age of the representatives (2017-2021) is approximately 50 years old (Pekola-Sjöblom & Piipponen 2018, 11). There are no functions within the local councils that are specifically reserved for young people.