Finland will postpone municipal elections due next month until mid-June as a surge in coronavirus cases raises concerns about low turnout and a possible spike in infections after polling day, the justice minister said on Saturday.
Finland is among the European countries least affected by the pandemic, but authorities are on alert due to the recent increase in cases and the appearance of new variants - especially in and around the capital, Helsinki.
The municipal election that had been scheduled for April 18 will now be held on June 13, said Justice Minister Anna-Maja Henriksson, warning that the poll’s legitimacy could be compromised if too many people stayed home instead of voting.
“The risk that the elections will fail is too big,” she told a news conference.
In Finland, there are 309 municipalities run by councils that tax residents and govern basic services such as healthcare and education.
Nine out of 10 parties currently in the Finnish parliament were in favor of postponing the local election with the True Finns, the right-wing, anti-euro party being the only one to support holding the vote next month as planned.
To date, Finland has recorded 61,552 coronavirus cases, 767 deaths and currently has 239 people hospitalized.