New Forms of Participation

Finnish democracy has been a success story. We are working to ensure that success continues by supporting the development of democracy through experiments and studies and by encouraging new forms of participation.

What is it about?

In comparative analyses, Finland frequently ranks highly for issues such as human rights, media freedom, lack of corruption and governance. However, the news is not all good. An OECD Trust Report published in spring 2021 revealed that Finns had very little trust in their own opportunities to influence societal decision-making.

Other indicators of participation are also worrying. According to national election studies, Finns are increasingly clearly divided into two groups: people who are active and participative and those who are alienated and marginalised from politics and political parties. The turnout in the spring 2021 municipal elections, 55 per cent, was the lowest in 70 years.

According to the PALO research project’s policy brief, only about one in four Finns trust their local decision-makers and under a fifth believe that residents’ opinions are heard in municipal decision-making.

Political parties, one of the cornerstones of Finnish democracy, also have problems. An extensive survey commissioned by Sitra in 2020 showed that more than half of Finnish people thought that political parties were disconnected from ordinary people and that the public’s opinions were not taken into consideration by political parties in decision-making.

The figures show that the development of democracy has not kept up with today’s fast-paced world and technological development. The acceptability of the system as a whole becomes eroded if people become side-lined and feel that their concerns do not make it onto the political agenda. Political alienation should be fought in all ways possible. The New forms of participation project aims to develop new ways to participate to support the representative system.

What do we do?

The New forms of participation project strengthens participatory democracy in Finland through experiments and studies and by supporting the adoption of new forms of participation. We am to disseminate our work extensively across Finland and strengthen the coupling of these new forms of participation with decision-making.

The key focus areas of our work are as follows:

Who is involved?

We want to inspire an extensive group of developers of democracy to join us in reforming Finnish democracy. We aim to be an intermediary between research, political decision-making and civil society.

A key focus area in our operations will be the new well-being services counties to be established, with the county elections taking place in January 2022. We will support the well-being services counties to create a structure that is democratic, strengthen civil servants’ and elected representatives’ awareness of the importance of resident participation and increase the residents’ opportunities to influence by developing new forms of participation.

Our work will support the execution of the National Democracy Programme 2025 and new public governance strategy, the key goals of which are expanding citizens’ opportunities to influence.

Where are we now?

The project launched in November 2021 and will continue as part of the Democracy and Participation theme until the end of 2025.


Kuvassa ihmisiä ja teksti mitä mieltä suomi?

A new online platform on which everyone dares to tell their opinions piloted in Finland

A crowd of people

Sitra wants to revolutionize participation in political decision-making with a simple digital tool

Kuvassa ihmisiä, maapallo ja robotti

Few expat Finns vote in elections – new digital service encourages debate and engagement

People do democratic things. The shape of Finland is in the background.

Over half a million Finns would be keen to participate more in decision-making if it were easier


Faith in democracy’s ability to solve problems is faltering, but the situation is not hopeless

Kuvituskuva, jossa EU-tähdet sekä ihmisiä

EU experimented with participatory democracy – Conference on the Future of Europe produced 326 recommendations


Contact us if you would like to know more.

Hannu-Pekka Ikäheimo
Project Director, New forms of participation
Joonas Leppänen
Senior Lead, New forms of participation
Elina Eerola
Specialist, New forms of participation
Perttu Jämsén
Specialist, New forms of participation
Pauli Saloranta
Specialist, New forms of participation
Onni Pekonen
Specialist, New forms of participation
Maija Jäske
Advisor, New forms of participation
Sanna-Kaisa Saloranta
Project Coordinator, New forms of participation
Ilari Lovio
Specialist, Communications and Public Affairs
Niina Nevala
Assistant, Democracy and participation

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