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FSD3067 Finnish National Election Study 2015

Authors

  • Grönlund, Kimmo (Åbo Akademi University. Social Science Research Institute)
  • Kestilä-Kekkonen, Elina (University of Tampere. School of Management)

Keywords

constituencies, internet, parliamentary candidates, parliamentary elections, party identification, personality traits, political allegiance, political attitudes, political influence, political interest, political participation, trust, voting

Abstract

Finnish National Election Study 2015 charted the political participation, political attitudes, party allegiance, candidate and party choice, and voting behaviour of Finns. Further topics included citizens' initiative, different ways of having a say, and future prospects of Finland. The data were collected after the elections through face-to-face interviews and a self-administered drop-off questionnaire. The interview data contain Finland's contribution to the international CSES study (module 4). Data collection was funded by the Ministry of Justice.

First questions in the interview covered interest in politics, attention paid to media coverage of the elections (including social media), Internet use, discussions about politics with others, party identification and self-perceived social class. The respondents were asked to what extent they agreed with some statements relating to voting, democracy, the electoral system, and decision-making. Willingness to influence things by own activity (for instance, by participating in a demonstration or joining a consumer boycott) was charted as well as membership in a political party. Concerning citizens' initiative, the respondents were asked whether they thought the introduction of the initiative had promoted democracy in Finland and whether they had signed any initiatives. Opinions on the importance of the Internet and social media as channels of civic engagement were surveyed.

The survey also carried a set of attitudinal statements on voting, politics, political parties, politicians and public political influence (e.g. 'I have no say in what the Government and Parliament decide' or 'By voting, ordinary people can influence political decision-making'. With regard to the future prospects of Finland, the respondents were asked which future directions they thought sounded good or bad (e.g. "more entrepreneurship and market economy", "better equality between men and women").

The CSES module explored the respondents' opinions on the economic situation of Finland, own financial situation, whether public expenditure on various things should be increased or decreased, whether the Government should take measures to bridge the income gap, and whether it made a difference who was in power or who people voted for. The respondents were asked to place themselves and the parties on a left-right axis. Questions also covered satisfaction with democracy in Finland and whether the respondents felt close to any party. Voting behaviour was studied with questions on whether the respondents had voted, the candidate of which party they had voted for, whether they had considered voting for a candidate of any other party and if yes, which party, whether they had voted in the previous parliamentary elections and which party they had voted for. Opinions on the party leaders were surveyed. Finally, the respondents' factual knowledge of politics was tested with a few questions.

Non-voters were asked why they had not voted and how self-evident not voting had been to them. All those who had voted were asked what had influenced their choice of party, to what extent various issues had influenced their candidate choice, whether they had voted for a candidate who was of the same age and gender as themselves, and when they had decided which candidate and party to vote for. The respondents' perceptions of how much different things and people had affected their political opinions were studied. Trust in government and other institutions, groups and people was charted as well as views on the performance of the Government in the previous electoral term.

The self-administered questionnaire surveyed the extent to which the respondents agreed with a number of statements relating to values and Finnish politics, whether they identified with different groups, and information sources used for making the voting decision. The respondents were also asked whether they had been contacted personally by a party or a candidate during campaigning, whether their family or friends and acquaintances had tried to influence their voting decision, and how easy it had been for the respondents to find a suitable party and candidate. Online voting and political activities and participation on the Internet were charted as well as time spent on following news and other programmes on politics and topical issues. Other topics included views on own financial situation and the Finnish economy and employment situation, satisfaction with own life, and opinions on who should make the important political decisions. Finally, personality traits of the respondents were surveyed using the Ten-item personality inventory (TIPI).

Variables beginning with 'k' are national election study variables, 'q' denotes CSES variables, 'p' denotes variables in the self-administered questionnaire, 'a' denotes CSES administrative variables and 'd' denotes background variables.

Background variables included, among others, the respondent's year of birth, gender, education, marital status, health status, trade union membership, economic activity and occupational status, employer type, unemployment periods, religiosity and religious attendance, mother tongue, gross annual household income, number of people in the household, type of neighbourhood/municipality, housing tenure, and electoral district.

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