Failure to see the tree for the forest.

Finland scrambles for scraps while the elitist statists in Brussels toss the bones to the floor. It matters little who votes, when there is little to vote for, political consensus has sucked the nation dry as much as the socialism they promote…..

NOTE: Political representation is all but an illusion when there is only a nuance in difference between the political paries, and no way to primary their candidates.It’s a rigged game.

Study of general election reveals concerning inequalities

A joint study carried out by four universities has discovered just how unequal opportunities to exert political influence are in Finland. As income disparity grows, so voters’ interest in following politics and using their right to vote.

Ihmisiä äänestämässä vaalikopissa.
Image: Yle

Finland’s Ministry of Justice has joined with four universities in Helsinki, Tampere and Turku to study the connection between wealth and privilege and who is voting.

A section of the study authored by Sami Borg and Hanna Wass, for example, finds that the lower an individual’s income, education level and voting model as child, the more likely that person will be not to bother to vote.

People with low educational levels tend not to take an interest in voting at any stage of their life in Finland, the study finds. Normally, the will to vote grows as individuals age, but the current trend is for young people to continue to be politically passive for far longer periods.

The study states that there was an over 10 percent difference in voting percentages between the top quartile of income earners and the bottom quartile in the 2015 parliamentary elections. This naturally leads to a political imbalance, the authors argue, as the Finnish Parliament does not actually proportionally represent the whole of Finland.

Another connected phenomenon is the increasing tendency for voters in the highest income brackets to vote for other high income, well-educated candidates like themselves.

Women and youth, on the other hand, are proportionally underrepresented.

Lack of empathy breeds more inequality

The study further posits that when people with lower income and education levels fail to vote for candidates that represent them, the inequality gap in the Finnish Parliament grows. When people who are well-off are not familiar with the section of society that does not vote, a deficit of empathy is born, as they are unable to puts themselves in their fellow citizens’ shoes.

People who don’t bother to cast a ballot, for example, tend to be much more critical of immigration and the EU. If the elected decision-makers don’t have the ability to understand these opposing viewpoints, the interests of the non-voters will be marginalised, the study concludes.

The situation is aggravated by those that blame ‘indifferent’ non-voters for their situation. If the connection between voter passivity and economic and societal inequality is not taken into consideration, the study warns, mistrust of the entire political system will only grow.

Modelling representative democracy

Parental voting models tend to hold sway with voters until they are forty. Among under-40 voters, those who parents both voted in the 1999 general elections were 27 percent more likely to vote than those whose parents didn’t.

Voters that had completed a university degree were 30 percent more likely to vote than people who had dropped out of schooling after comprehensive school.

This difference is most dramatic among young voters under 34 years of age, where the probability of voting was two and half times greater for persons with a higher education level.

Political parties not what they appear

Finnish residents that had previously failed to cast a vote found a party that they could throw their weight behind in the last two elections: the Finns Party. The party is particularly popular among the long-term unemployed.

Researcher Jussi Westinen says the stability of their support is difficult to predict, however, as populist parties tend to be more vulnerable to political and economic fluctuations. The latest polls suggest the Finns Party has lost half of its support since the 2015 general election.

Westinen also states in the study that Finland no longer has a leftist party that represents labourers in its ranks, as today’s Left Alliance members are no longer blue-collar workers – even if they claim to subscribe to a leftist agenda. He says the Social Democratic Party, on the other hand, is no longer even a leftist organisation, although it continues to call itself the worker’s party.

The Greens and the centre-right National Coalition Party are the parties of well-off white collar workers and executives, the study states, even if voters from the Greens like to think of themselves as representing the left side of the political spectrum. Westinen says the Greens are an upper class left-leaning party in Finland at present. 

Centre Party attracts voters across the board

The Centre Party that won the largest share of the votes in 2015 and still garners the most support in polling tends to win votes equally from all levels of income and education groups. It still likes to refer to itself as the representative of agricultural interests and sparsely populated areas, despite this widespread voter support.

Surprisingly, the study shows that Centre Party voters are not actually big supporters of regional poliitics. In reality, the objective of reducing disparities between Finland’s geographical regions enjoys decreasing support among Centre Party voters with each election cycle.

The National Election Study 2015 was published in Pori on July 15, with political science professor Kimmo Grönlund and researcher Hanna Wass acting as editors. Written by a co-operative network of 28 academic researchers interested in election research, the study was based on 2105 data from the general elections and longitudinal data from similar previous studies carried out 2003-2011.

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