Sámi Parliament in Finland prepares for repeat election

Sajos, the Sami cultural centre in Inari, Finland and home to the Sami Parliament in Finland. (Eilís Quinn/Eye on the Arctic)

The Executive Board of the Sámi Parliament in Finland has recommended the previous term’s election committee be reappointed to oversee the June 24 repeat Sámi Assembly elections.

“Time is short and the task is demanding, as the preparation for the election must start immediately,” Pirita Näkkäläjärvi, President of the Sámi Parliament in Finland, said in a statement on the Parliament’s website on Friday. 

“We would gladly trust the repeat election to the Election Committee of the previous term.” 

The original 2023 election results were annulled by Finland’s Supreme Administrative Court this March after ruling that 65 people who should have been on the voter list were left out.

“Taking into account the number of persons who were not registered in the electoral roll, the said illegality is such that it must be considered to have influenced the outcome of the election as referred to in section 40 subsection 4 of the Sámi Parliamentary Act,” the court said in its March ruling. “When the effects on the candidate selection are also taken into account, the quality of the illegality is such that the result of the election cannot be corrected.”

Pirita Näkkäläjärvi, President of the Sámi Parliament in Finland (Ville-Riiko Fofonoff / Sámediggi | Saamelaiskäräjät)

The Election Committee that oversaw the 2023 vote finished its term December 31, 2023. Based on the Sámi Parliament Act and the Supreme Administrative Court decision, the original committee should oversee the repeat elections if possible. 

Näkkäläjärvi said the ongoing concerns over the voter roll need to be addressed by the country.

“There continues to be injustice regarding the matter of the electoral register,” Näkkäläjärvi said. “The right of the Sámi to self-determination is still not realised, even after the latest decisions issued by the Supreme Administrative Court.

“The key to solving the persisting human rights violations stated by UN treaty bodies is to amend the Act on the Sámi Parliament to correspond to human rights obligations binding on Finland. This will help resolve and calm the divisive situation.”

New candidate nominations are due by May 1.

Elected members and officials will stay in their positions until June election results are confirmed.

Näkkäläjärvi said the Executive Board continues to study the court decision.

Comments, tips or story ideas? Contact Eilís at eilis.quinn(at)cbc.ca

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Former candidates call to improve elections for Indigenous voters in Quebec, CBC News

Norway: Finnish Court annuls 2023 Sámi elections, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Land use rights a key issue in this year’s Sami parliamentary elections in Sweden, Radio Sweden

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