The June 2021 issue of the City of Helsinki’s Helsinki-lehti publication tells how you can vote in the municipal elections. Advance voting ends on 8 June, but you can also vote on election day, 13 June.
This issue’s page in English encourages members of Helsinki’s international community to use their right to vote and gain representation in local decision-making. According to the state-owned number cruncher Statistics Finland, 59.4 per cent of eligible voters with a Finnish background voted in the last municipal elections, but this number fell to 24.9 among eligible voters with a foreign background.
“By voting for someone who represents your community, you can help make municipal decision-making bodies more diverse. This works on a symbolic level, too, as it effects how mainstream society understands Finland’s changing demographics. In addition, if a group turns out to vote in increased numbers, political parties tend to give it more clout in future elections,” says Josefina Sipinen, a researcher at Tampere University.
The page in English also points you in the right direction if you don’t know which candidate to support. For example, the public broadcaster provides an election compass in English and in Russian that can help you determine which potential city councillor’s views align most closely with your own.
The ‘In English’ page also features short stories on recent developments in municipal services. This spring, the City of Helsinki started organising most of the capital’s jobseeker services, as part of a two-year pilot. The new arrangement helps connect unemployed residents with an expanded range of helpful city services. Another step forward is an ambitious project to harmonise guidance and advisory services in languages other than Finnish and Swedish.
Helsinki is slowly opening up its public areas and leisure services again, in line with national health authority recommendations. Libraries, museums, swimming pools and outdoor sports will cautiously reopen at half-capacity and continue operations as coronavirus infection rates allow.
One definite activity that everyone should add to their summer holidays list is a visit to the first-ever Helsinki Biennial.
Forty works of art from several countries will be on display until 26 September at the picturesque island of Vallisaari and mainland Helsinki. A free ferry ride that leaves from the Biennial pavilion near the Market Square will transport visitors back and forth to the island.
The Biennial’s grand opening falls on Helsinki Day, 12 June, when the city celebrates its birthday. Check the Helsinki Day programme closer to the date to learn more.
The postal service should deliver Helsinki-lehti to your post box this week. Look for the page in English to read more about each of the subjects mentioned above. After its publication date, the issue is also available in an accessible online format.
Photo: Hanna-Kristina Einmann