Tuesday. 21.05.2024

The Southwest Finland police have launched an investigation into alleged pressure on foreign voters to back some candidates in the June municipal elections.

The incidents have been reported in the Varissuo district, the largest suburb of Turku, located about 7 kilometers to the east from the city center.

In a statement in English, the police says that they have received "a report that voters in the Varissuo area in Turku have been pressured to vote for certain candidates."

According to police information, voters "have been possibly pressured in favor of three different candidates of the Turku municipal elections."

The police do not provide any details in their statement about the origin of the alleged pressured voters or the intimidators. However, the newspaper Ilta Sanomat published statements made by the president of the Turku Electoral Commission, Ilkka Sepponen, who suggested that both are foreigners.

Sepponen talked to the newspaper about young men "of foreign origin" who yell at others when they are going to exercise their right to vote. The situation seems to be that these people have their own candidate for whom they are trying to get votes.

He explained that it is "difficult" for the election officials to determine if that yelling constitutes a violation of the law, since they are unable to understand, for example, if someone "shouts a number in Somali."

According to Sepponen's explanation, this may constitute an intimidation, but "we are unable to verify it because we do not understand the language."

Sepponen said it was a security guard also of foreign origin who warned them of what was happening.

Right to vote is personal

The matter is investigated by the police as three separate electoral offences. Election commissioners are not suspected of criminal activity.

The police remind in their statement that the right to vote, or not vote, is personal and every voter has the right to exercise this right as they see fit.

To pressure voters using threats is a punishable offence in Finland.

The police ask those that have any information regarding pressuring of voters to report it to the authorities.

Police investigate pressure on foreign voters to back some candidates