Personal representation or party representation? Elections in the autonomous Åland Islands

David Arter

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For an electorate numbering under 21,000 persons, voters in the autonomous Åland islands are remarkably well represented. They vote in Finnish general elections, presidential elections and European Parliament elections; they vote for a 30-seat regional assembly, the Lagting; and they vote for one of the 16 municipal councils on the islands. For Lagting elections there is one MP for barely seven-hundred voters. This low MP-voter ratio, when taken together with open-list PR electoral rules enabling citizens to cast a personal vote, and a broad consensus over Åland’s self-governing status, would appear to militate against the need for party representation. Yet Ålanders are today served by an institutionalised party system which, while reflecting Scandinavian influences, is distinctive in its own right. Accordingly, this report poses three basic questions: (i) When and why did an Åland party system emerge? (ii) To what extent does it resemble the classical ‘Scandinavian party system model’? (iii) What does the most recent 2019 Lagting election indicate about the balance between personal representation and party representation?.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Finland
  • micro-polity
  • party systems
  • personal vote
  • Åland

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


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