Election time 2011

In Finland, in the parliamentary elections for 2011, the people have spoken.

And largely they have spoken “hurrr durr derp”.

Which is not a Finnish phrase of special profundity, but Internet-speech for serious mental disability.

Seems a full fifth of Finns have voted for the odious pricks of the True Finns (Perussuomalaiset), apparently eager to show the world that the true Finn is as legend has him: a contrarian xenophobe full of distrust of anyone and anything educated, cultured or foreign. (For a fuller despairing screaming rant on the subject, see a previous post.)

The results will be something like this (95% of the votes counted), with the number of seats and the change from 2007 —

  1. Coalition/Kokoomus — 43 seats, down 7
  2. Social Democratic/SDP — 42 seats, down 3
  3. True Finns/PS — 39 seats, up 34 (what the hell, Finland?)
  4. Center/Keskusta — 35 seats, down 16
  5. Left Alliance/Vasemmistoliitto — 15 seats, down 2
  6. Greens/Vihreät — 10 seats, down 5
  7. Swedes/RKP — 9 seats, the same
  8. Christian Democrats/KD — 6 seats, down 1

There are 200 seats in the Parliament (we Finns do with just one, no Senate/House division), all of which are open for election every single time, every four years. The seats are… erm, I should redirect you to Wikipedia, but let me try to explain the d’Hondt method to you.

Finland’s divided into 15 electoral districts. Each sends a fixed number of MPs to Helsinki, the number depending on the population: The district of Helsinki sends 21; the district of Lapland which is a gazillion times bigger but mostly inhabited by moose, sends seven.

In each district, each party may field as many prospective MPs as they want; at times more than they can actually get elected in that district. (I think; am not 100% sure there isn’t an upper limit.) The reason is the way the votes are counted.

Each voter has one vote, and it is cast for a prospective MP of the voter’s own choice. (This is where the derp factor comes in.)

Next, the votes each party got are summed up, and each party’s that prospective who got the most votes is tagged with that number. The next-to-best gets one half of that number, the third one-third, and so on. When each prospective of each party has a tag like this, those with the biggest tags are picked, until there are enough chosen: 21 in Helsinki, 7 in Lapland, and so on.

So if we take three purely imaginary parties, the Pure Shits, the Sad Dicks and the Kacks, and let each field three prospectives in a three-seat district, and get these results:

  • PS: 1000, 500, 400 (sum: 1900)
  • SD: 800, 700, 510 (sum: 2010)
  • Kak: 4000, 2, 1 (sum: 4003)

— then the tags for each prospective, in the same order, will be:

  • PS: 1900, 950, 633
  • SD: 2010, 1005, 670
  • Kak: 4003, 2001, 1334

This then would mean that Kak #1, SD #1 and Kak #2 would be elected. Note that this grossly imbalanced example reveals a funny feature in the system: the second Kack prospective got elected despite getting only two votes! Similarly, the elected SD prospective was not as successful as the top PS prospective: but as SD got more votes overall, it was more successful.

This all makes voting a very delicate business; I don’t really understand all of it, but I admire the mathematics of the mechanism. (It’s either a feature or a bug that the system means the parties profit if the pad their lists with university students, immigrants and other minorities unlike to be elected: the boost in overall votes will help the big guns score better.)

Footnote: Åland is a special district. Also, there can be district-wide alliances, in which two parties merge for the purposes and the duration of this tag-assigning. See Wikipedia.

And now: seems some 40 of those 200 seats will be filled by the True Finns, eager, disunited and scary like a toddler with a detonator. I just hope inexperience will foil them until the lures of politics fracture them.

I’m not altogether certain who gets to be the prospective prime minister, and try forming a cabinet with a majority stout enough to stand on. It will be interesting, I think: with four parties each at slightly below 20%, it would take three of them to effect something stable (I think). (Or two, and a rapacious grab at near every of the small parties.)

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