The citizens’ initiative allows Finnish people to submit an initiative to the parliament for the enactment of a law. Among other things, citizens can propose amendments to an existing act, a new act or the repeal of a valid act. The residents’ initiative allows residents to submit initiatives in matters concerning a local government’s affairs. As part of the Ministry of Justice’s online participation project, the government wanted to give Finnish people a chance to submit, endorse and monitor initiatives online as well. The aim is to increase citizens’ chances for participation, as well as interaction and transparency in community decision-making.
The aim is to increase citizens’ chances for participation, as well as interaction and transparency in community decision-making.
Online submission, endorsement and monitoring of initiatives
In December 2012, Solita produced the Kansalaisaloite.fi online service for the Ministry of Justice. The service enables the submission, endorsement and monitoring of citizens’ initiatives online. September 2013 saw the implementation of its sister service Kansalaisaloite.fi, through which residents can submit initiatives to their local governments or take part in the initiatives made by others. What has been exceptional is the public nature of the development: in principle, every citizen has had the chance to participate in the planning of the service. The Ministry of Justice has also published the source code of the Kansalaisaloite.fi service and has asked for development suggestions.
Better chances for participation and transparency to decision-making
Initiative services are an easy, free-of-charge and safe channel for submitting and monitoring citizens’ and residents’ initiatives. They provide citizens with improved chances to participate in and influence decision-making on the national and municipal level alike, and to monitor how things progress.
Feedback from the services has been positive. The fact that citizens have rapidly found and taken the online services into use is indicative of the project’s success. Two hundred citizens’ initiatives and residents’ initiatives were made during the first year. The residents’ service includes more than half of Finland’s municipalities. A few citizens’ initiatives have already gathered the 50,000 votes required by the constitution and have progressed or are progressing to the parliament. The digital service enables notably faster action: the initiative for a Marriage Act allowing for same-sex marriage, for example, gathered the necessary 50,000 endorsements in less than 15 hours and, all in all, more than 160,000 signatures. This initiative was also the first initiative made through the digital service to have been approved by the parliament and to have progressed to the following stage.
Indicative of the project’s success is the fact that citizens have rapidly found and taken the online services into use. Two hundred citizens’ initiatives and residents’ initiatives were made during the first year.
The Kansalaisaloite.fi and Kuntalaisaloite.fi online services were developed as part of the online participation (Osallistumisympäristö) project, which belongs to a project aiming to promote e-services and democracy (Sähköisen asioinnin ja demokratian vauhdittamisohjelmaan (SaDe)), coordinated by the Ministry of Finance.
Find out more about the Kansalaisaloite.fi and Kuntalaisaloite.fi services.