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:
- Increasing awareness: We will increase awareness of the methods and opportunities of participatory democracy. We will provide information about the forms of participation that attract different participant profiles and how they can be promoted.
- Method development: Together with researchers, developers, government and civil society parties, we will develop existing and create new forms of participation to make them easily adoptable, applicable and more effective. We will offer development workshops to help with the adoption and application of these new participative methods.
- Experiments: we will carry out and support experiments with digital, deliberative and direct forms of participation.
- Coupling with decision-making: we will anchor new and advanced existing forms of participation more deeply in the structures of decision-making
- International co-operation: we will engage in international co-operation with leading experts in the field of innovative democracy and strengthen Finnish development networks.
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.
Contact us if you would like to know more.