G5 Doctoral dissertation (article)

Democratic innovations in Finnish local politics : essays on the varieties, causes and consequences of mechanisms for direct citizen participation 

List of Authors: Jäske Maija

Publisher: University of Turku

Place: Turku

Publication year: 2018

ISBN: 978-951-29-7436-8

eISBN: 978-951-29-7437-5

URL: http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-29-7437-5


Democratic governments around the world have become interested in democratic innovations, i.e. mechanisms for citizens’ direct participation in decision-making. Typical examples include referendums, citizens’ initiatives, deliberative mini-publics, participatory budgeting, committees, surveys and online applications. This work examines the causes and consequences of democratic innovations in the context of Finnish local politics through an introductory chapter and three independent articles.

The first article studies the linkage between political trust and support for democratic innovations by analyzing survey data from municipal residents in Southwest Finland in 2013. The results indicate that democratic innovations may not be able to attract the most skeptical citizens, regardless of whether participation takes place online or offline. The second article investigates factors explaining the occurrence of democratic innovations, namely referendum motions and advisory referendums, with a case-control study of Finnish municipalities in 1991-2012. It shows that their occurrence is influenced by various systemic factors, such as political support, municipal size, policy diffusion and party system factors. The third article addresses the question whether democratic innovations can influence the wider public. The analyses based on hierarchical data covering 9022 individuals in 30 Finnish municipalities in 2011 reveal that citizens’ evaluations of procedural fairness are higher in municipalities that offer possibilities for discursive participation. The availability of participatory mechanisms does not, however, affect satisfaction with outcomes of decision-making. Overall, the results of the three articles indicate that the details in institutional design matter for both favorable preconditions and potential consequences of democratic innovations.

The introductory chapter lays out a framework for systematically analyzing the institutional design features of democratic innovations, and discusses a number of normative justifications for deepening citizen participation in democratic governance. Through theoretical discussion and reflection of empirical findings as well previous empirical research, the introductory chapter points out that participation should not be justified only by its positive effects on those who participate, but also by its epistemic and systemic value.

Last updated on 2021-24-06 at 08:56