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Background information : 07-10-96

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European elections in Austria and Finland

BACKGROUND NOTE

Brussels, October 7, 1996


EUROPEAN ELECTIONS IN AUSTRIA AND FINLAND

For the first time since their countries acceded to the European Union in January 1995, Austrian and Finnish voters are going to elect their Members of the European Parliament on 13 and 20 October 1996 respectively. After the elections in Sweden in September 1995, the three new Members States will thus have directly elected Members.

The present representation of those countries in the European Parliament is composed of delegates from the national parliaments, calculated in proportion to the results obtained by the political parties in the general elections held before accession. Austria has 21 seats in the EP while Finland has 16, out of a total of 626.

It will be noted that quite a few of the present European Members are not standing for relection. This is due mainly to the fact that they also have seats in the national parliaments.


THE EUROPEAN ELECTIONS IN AUSTRIA
21 SEATS

Austria is a country with a population of 7.9 million (5.8 million voters). The present federal government is a "grand coalition" of the Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) and the Christian Democratic Party (ÖVP) and is led by Chancellor Franz VRANITZKY. At the last general elections the parties obtained the following results: SPÖ: 38%, ÖVP: 28%, FPÖ: 40%, Liberals: 5,3% and Greens: 4,6%.

AUSTRIA'S PRESENT MEMBERS OF THE EP

PES Group (8): Albrecht Karl KONECNY, Elisabeth HLAVAC, Erhard MEIER, Erich FARTHOFER, Herbert BÖSCH, Hilde HAWLICEK*, Ilona GRAENITZ, Irene CREPAZ.

PPE Group (6): Agnes SCHIERHUBER, Friedrich KÖNIG, Michael SPINDELEGGER, Milan LINZER, Paul RÜBIG, Reinhard RACK*.

Ind (FPÖ) (5): Erich SCHREINER, Franz LINSER*, Klaus LUKAS, Wolfgang JUNG, Wolfgang NUßBAUMER.

ELDR Group (1): Martina GREDLER*

Green Group (1): Johannes VOGGENHUBER*.

An asterisk (*) indicates Members standing for re-election.

THE ELECTORAL SYSTEM

The electoral system being used for the European elections is based on proportional representation. It is comparable to the system traditionally used in Austria for legislative elections.

The parties put forward lists of candidates. The seats are shared out on the basis of the percentage of the votes obtained by each list. Because of the limited number of seats, the lists are identical for the whole of Austria; there are no regional lists. The threshold required to win a seat is 4 %. Candidates who win 7 % of the total 'preference votes' obtained by their party win one of the seats accorded to the party, irrespective of their position on the list. The lists of candidates must be signed by three members of the national parliament, or by one Member of the European Parliament, or by 2 600 voters. The minimum voting age is 18. European citizens residing in Austria are entitled to vote provided that they did not vote in their country of origin in the June 1994 European elections. 7 205 European citizens have registered and fulfil that condition.

THE PARTIES RUNNING IN THE ELECTIONS ON 13 OCTOBER

The following political parties have entered lists for the European elections to be held on 13 October 1996:

Parties represented in the EP:

SPÖ (social democrats): chief candidate Mr Hannes SWOBODA.
ÖVP (christian democrats): chief candidate Mrs Ursula STENZEL.
FPÖ (non-attached): chief candidate Mr Franz LINSER*.

Liberales Forum (liberals): chief candidate Mr Friedhelm FRISCHENSCHLAGER.
Die Grünen (greens): chief candidate Mr Johannes VOGGENHUBER*.

Parties not represented in the EP:

Forum Handicap
(group defending the interests of the handicapped): Mr Klaus VOGET.
KPÖ (communists): Mr Walter BAIER.
N-Die Neutralen (this group is campaigning for the retention of neutrality):


THE EUROPEAN ELECTION IN FINLAND
16 SEATS

Finland has a population of 5.1 million (4.1 million voters). The present government is a broad coalition led by the social democrat Mr Paavo LIPPONEN. The governing coalition consists of: the Social Democrats (SDP), The National Coalition Party (Kokoomus), the Left Alliance (Vasemmistoliitto), The Swedish People's Party (RKP) and the Greens (Vihreä liitto).

FINLAND'S PRESENT MEMBERS OF THE EP

ELDR Group (6): Elisabeth REHN, Mirja RYYNÄNEN*, Olli Ilmari REHN*, Paavo VÄYRYNEN*, Seppo PELTTARI, Timo Juhani JÄRVILAHTI.

PES Group (4): Mikko RÖNNHOLM*, Riitta MYLLER*, Saara-Maria PAAKKINEN, Ulpu IIVARI*.

EPP Group (4): Pirjo RUSANEN*, Riitta JOUPPILA*, Ritva Tellervo LAURILA*, Kyösti TOIVONEN*

EUL/NGL Group (1): Marjatta STENIUS-KAUKONEN.

Green Group (1): Heidi HAUTALA*.

THE ELECTORAL SYSTEM

All the Finnish citizens, who are 18 years old on the election day at the latest, are eligible to vote.
They do not have to register as it is done automatically by the authorities. Also the other citizens of the European Union who have a domicile in Finland on the 30th August 1996 are eligible to vote. However, they have to register as voters in Finland. They also have to confirm that they did not vote in any other Member State during the elections in 1994 and 1995, and will not vote in Austria in 1996.

According to the Finnish Population Register Centre (Väestrekisterikeskus) there were at the end of August 1996 some 72 600 foreigners living in Finland. Biggest national groups willing to vote are the Swedes, the Germans and the British. The final date for the registration was the 15th of August 1996.

In June Väestrekisterikeskus approached with an official letter all the EU nationals living in Finland. The letter was in Finnish, Swedish. English, French and German.

All EU citizens can also vote in the local elections, if they have a permanent domicile in Finland on the 30th August 1996. EU citizens can also be candidates in the local elections.
In the European elections candidates can be nominated by the registered political parties and citizens' groups. The parties can do the nomination automatically. The other groups have to gather supporting signatures for each of their candidates from each of the four election districts i.e. each candidate must have 4 x 1000 supporting signatures. This means that a non-party organisation

wanting to nominate the maximum number (16) of candidates has to collect altogether 64 000 signatures.

The parties and other groups can choose between two different systems. They can nominate candidates for the whole country or for a region. For the elections Finland has been divided into four districts. All the parties have, however, nominated candidates for the whole country.

The deadline for the parties and other organisations to put forward candidates was the 19th of September 1996. There are 14 parties and one other organisation in the elections. The total number of candidates is 207.

PARTIES RUNNING IN THE ELECTIONS ON 20 OCTOBER

The Finnish electoral system (see above) is such that it is not possible to identify a chief candidate.

Parties represented in the EP:

SDP : The Finnish Social Democratic Party
Keskusta: Finnish Centre Party
Kokoomus
: The National Coalition Party
Vasemmistoliitto: The Left Alliance
RKP/SFP: The Swedish People's Party
Vilhreät: The Greens

Parties not represented in the EP:
SKL/Kristillinen liitto: Finnish Christian Union
SMP/currently PESU: Perussuomalaiset ('The True Finns')
NUSU/Nuorsuomalaiset: The Young Finns
Liberaalinen Kansanpuolue: Liberal Party
Suomen Eläkeläisten Puolue:
Pensioners
Luonnonlain Puolue: Law of Nature
Vaihtoehto EU:Lle: Anti-EU Movement

B DK D G E F IRL I L NL A P FIN S UK PE
PSE 6 3 40 10 21 16 1 18 2 7 8 10 4 7 63 216
PPE 7 3 47 9 30 12 4 14 2 10 6 1 4 5 19 173
UPE 2 16 7 27 1 3 56
ELDR 6 5 2 1 1 6 1 10 1 8 6 3 2 52
GUE/
NGL
1
4 9 7 5 3 1 3 33
V 2 12 2 4 1 1 1 4 27
ARE 1 2 12 2 1 2 20
EdN 4 12 2 18
NI 3 11 11 5 1 31
Tot 25 16 99 25 64 87 15 87 6 31 21 25 16 22 87 626

Further Information: Etienne BASSOT - Tel: 284 47 41, EP Office in Vienna - Tel: +(43 1) 516 17 0 and the EP Office in Helsinki - Tel: (+358 0) 622 0450.

 
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