Finnish Democracy and Participation Web Services (FDPWP)

Joinup Administrator
Published on: 14/06/2007
Document

Otakantaa.fi and Kansanvalta.fi are the only Finnish central government online services that provide the public with information and participation channels related to decision-making in society. They have been designed to be mutually supportive: Democracy.fi is the data bank and Otakantaa.fi is the participation channel. Both are online services accessible by all and published by the Ministry of Justice, Finland. Otakantaa.fi promotes citizens’ public, including anonymous, participation in decision-making processes. Kansanvalta.fi supports active citizenship by providing information on issues including citizens’ rights, ways of influence, parties, non-governmental organisations and democracy indicators on the state of and changes in Finnish democracy.

Policy Context

National politics, education and participation

Description of target users and groups

Both services are targeted at all individuals and groups interested in social participation and influence who have access to the Internet. The special target groups of Otakantaa.fi vary depending on the topic of discussion on the forum. In addition to citizens, Kansanvalta.fi is for researchers, administrators and educators. Otakantaa.fi and Kansanvalta.fi have attracted approximately 3.000- 6,000 unique visitors a month. The number of visitors has been increasing steadily. All feedback is responded to within two business days. The sites are available in both of Finland's national languages (Finnish and Swedish). Versions in English and plain Finnish of Kansanvalta.fi are also available. The services aim to increase citizens' levels of competence in participation and consequently their empowerment towards active citizenship. The services support participatory democracy and increase interaction between government and civil society. They also aim to improve the quality of decision-making and drafting of legislation and introduce citizens' everyday knowledge to complement expert information in these processes. Citizens can appear by their real name, user name or anonymously on the forum. Anonymity is allowed to ensure that even sensitive issues will be addressed. Messages that comply with the forum's rules are published unedited as soon as they have passed a preliminary review. Experiences and good practices gained from the services will be utilised in the development of Finnish e-democracy. Development work commenced in spring 2007 in a joint working group of central and local government, Parliament and the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities and is coordinated by the new Democracy Unit of the Ministry of Justice. The aim is to increase government openness and the diversity of participation methods. Both implement the policy of equality in the fields of minorities, gender and multiculturality.

Description of the way to implement the initiative

- Multi-channel issues: -

Main results, benefits and impacts

The sites are available in both of Finland’s national languages (Finnish and Swedish). Versions in English and plain Finnish of Democracy.fi are also available. The number of Democracy.fi pages, including the different language versions, totals around 300 and that of Otakantaa.fi pages around 40, excluding the discussion forum. The size of the sites will be kept relatively small in future by utilising links to material produced elsewhere. Innovation: Experiences and good practices gained from the services will be utilised in the development of Finnish e-democracy. Development work commenced in spring 2007 in a joint working group of central and local government, Parliament and the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities and is coordinated by the new Democracy Unit of the Ministry of Justice. The aim is to increase government openness and the diversity of participation methods.

Return on investment

Return on investment: Not applicable / Not available

Track record of sharing

-

Lessons learnt

1. Co-operation between ministries, administation and third section can be managed well when the stakeholders have common targets. 2. Motivation of citizens and governmental officers is very challenging. 3. Making the web sites well-known among people requires marketing and communication. Especially challenging is to get media attention.

Scope: National