The goal of the Updating Democracy project is to strengthen Finland’s position as a model democratic country with a capacity for renewal.


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The goal of the Updating Democracy project is to strengthen Finland’s position as a model democratic country with a capacity for renewal. Digitisation is one of the foundations upon which representative democracy can achieve a broader reach and channels for direct participation and influence can be built.

The crucial role of individuals in the success of a nation will become more prominent in the future. This is partly because a growing proportion of data concerning an individual will be under their own control.

Until now, the data forming the basis of knowledge management has mainly been controlled by public institutions. With this shift, expert power transfers from institutions to individuals. As a result, the need for a customer-driven approach and the transformation of systemic models in public administration will become more apparent.

What are we doing?

The purpose of the project is to improve collaboration within the trinity that makes up public decision-making (state, regions and local authorities) based on representative democracy and to free it from siloed practices. This requires the rethinking of decision-making by elected representatives and civil service practices, and the mutual relationship between the two.

The project focuses on national policymaking and state administration and therefore specifically on supporting the reform of the methods adopted by the parliament and government.

The ability of political parties, which hold a key position in a democracy, to engage in long-term programme work and maintain an open dialogue with citizens has deteriorated. This project works together with political parties to strengthen and renew their capabilities in the national, regional and local domains.

With the call for more direct citizen participation and inclusion, there is a need for new ways of working and platforms. One of the main outcomes of the project will be a modern democratic user interface and its implementation by the government.

Who is involved?

Sitra will be working closely with parliament, government and political parties to implement the project.

The project is also integrated into Sitra’s other activities. For example, the development of government practices is a direct continuation of the drawn up as part of the public administration leadership training.

Foresight and insight, the use of knowledge in decision-making and the development of dialogue are among the central questions addressed within the focus area. The human-driven data economy and new ways of applying data (IHAN) must also be focused on when we develop public decision-making and democracy.

Where have we got to so far?

The project is being launched in autumn 2018 and will run until June 2021.

Sitra undertook research into the weak points in our decision-making system in 2017, and in 2018 it published the working paper “Updating Democracy”, which presents the findings and outlines a set of tasks for the project.

You can  order our newsletter on Updating democracy project here (In Finnish)


Antti Kivelä
Jouni Backman
Liisa Hyssälä
Petri Tuomi-Nikula
Lea Konttinen
Senior Lead, Reforming the decision-making process
Tuula Tiihonen
Senior Lead, Democracy and participation
Marja Illi
Senior Lead, Fair data economy
Elina Eerola
Specialist, New forms of participation
Henna Hiilamo
Specialist, Reforming the decision-making process
Jukka Vahti
Project Director, Digital power and democracy
Tiina Peltola
Kirsti Kaustara

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