Helsinki's participation and interaction model
Since 1995, the Local Government Act (LGA) assures the right for finish citizen to participate in the decision making process. In order to enhance popular initiatives, Helsinki City Council decided to go further and open an online service for its citizens' initiatives.
To increase local participation and direct democracy by enhancing citizen engagement in policy-making.
Since 1995, the Local Government Act (LGA) assures the right for Finnish citizen to participate in the decision making process. In order to enhance popular initiatives, Finland and the City of Helsinki decided to go further and open online services for its citizens' initiatives.
The conditions in Finland for citizen initiatives are wide as every residents of the municipality over the age of 15 can take an initiative related to the operations of the City Council. Only 2% of participation for an initiative is necessary so the City Council must decide to rule, or not, regarding the issue whithin 6 months. Regarding referendums, the initiative must be shared by at least 5% of the citizens. A part from the online service, citizens can submit initiatives directly to the City Register Office.
Finnish's citizens have different ways of lifting up popular initiatives to the city's decision makers. Therefore, those participation innovations promote awareness among these decision makers as they now have to acknowledge a diversity of issues shared to them from the citizens.
The City of Helsinki is using internet and networks in order to increase interactions between citizens and politics. For example, the City created the application Ahjo Explorer that provides an easy access to political decisions took by the City Council. This application is therefore a tool for citizens as it is made for create, report and monitor citizen's initiatives. They are enabled to co-create initiatives, report local issues and follow the procedure. Therefore, Helsinki sets up open knowledge, transparency and awareness, which are necessary tools to increase participation's rates.
Popular initiatives, as they are ruled and organized by the City of Helsinki allow citizens to enjoy a direct participation instrument as they can put into lights and bring matters directly into the decision-making process. Moreover, the aim is also to have citizens participate in order to co-planning the city in better cooperation.
The bottom-up system is therefore increased by the online service and is reconsidering involvement of civil society within eParticipation. As the city is looking for ways to give easier access for its citizens to participate in decision-making process, it is implementing new strategies to increase local participation such as the Participation Game Card for participatory budgeting. You can find a review about Helsinki's participatory Budget here.