Finland falls short of top countries in comparison of parliamentary transparency
In Brazil and Canada, people can find all the speeches, bills and votes of their MPs at the touch of a button. A Sitra study finds that in Finland there is room for improvement in the digital services to increase the transparency of parliament.
Sitra compared the digital services related to the openness of the legislative process in Parliament and the government in Finland with five countries: Brazil, Canada, Chile, France and Israel. These benchmark countries can be considered pioneers in the use of tools that increase parliamentary openness.
Although Finland is known as a strong democratic Nordic country with extensive government support for public participation and engagement, Sitra’s study reveals areas for improvement in Finland and lists good examples to follow.
“In Finland, the openness and participatory nature of the government is excellent by international comparison, but in Parliament, legislation is churned out through a process that is not transparent to the public,” says Ville Aula, PhD Researcher at the London School of Economics and Political Science, who conducted the study for Sitra.
The opposite is the case in the benchmark countries studied: information is not necessarily available on the preparatory work of the government and ministries, but in parliamentary deliberations, not a single twist or turn goes unnoticed by the public.
France and Canada, for example, have services that provide people with a single view to access complete information on the work of their parliaments. Short summaries of bills are written in plain language and can be followed with each amendment and intervention. In Brazil, a dedicated citizen participation portal has been set up where the public can read updates on parliamentary work, discuss laws, write to representatives and send statements to committee hearings.
Compared to these peers, the Finnish Parliament is relatively closed. Information is available but is not easy to find. Parliament’s website has no built-in tools intended for public participation. In contrast to the benchmark countries, parliamentary committee work is also completely closed.
Finland scores well in government transparency
While parliamentary transparency is lacking, Finland is an international leader in government and ministry transparency. Most government projects can be systematically monitored via the projects section of the government’s website (in Finnish and Swedish).
The study also identified a challenge that has yet to be solved by any of the benchmark countries: online services that increase the transparency of governments and parliaments are not linked to each other. It would be useful for both parliamentarians and the public if information could flow better between the government and the parliament. The EU’s public participation services have gone the furthest in overcoming this hurdle.
“If Finland were to put in place effective tools to increase parliamentary transparency and solve the gaps in the exchange of information between parliament and the government, we could be an international pioneer in transparency of participation in decision-making,” says Senior Lead Lea Konttinen at Sitra.
Integrated and interlinked information systems enable effortless participation
The study finds that the best tools for increasing parliamentary transparency are based on uniform information systems and linked data sets that permeate the whole parliament. There is therefore no shortcut to having good tools, which require advanced information systems.
The results of the study underscore the importance of internal links. When different parts of information systems and processes are interlinked, it is easy to build new tools and functions.
"Transparency of the legislative process and citizen participation are the foundations of democracy. By developing and adopting modern tools enabled by digitalisation, Parliament and the government can promote public participation and trust in decision-making," says Veera Heinonen, Director of the Democracy and Participation theme at Sitra.
Sitra’s Democracy and Participation theme seeks out solutions to strengthen involvement and trust and to take advantage of new technologies. Sitra’s working paper "Tools for public participation around the world – An international comparison of digital services that increase transparency and participation in legislative processes" summarises the results of the study. The study is part of Sitra’s project Reforming the decision-making process, which aims to accelerate the development of the public decision-making process towards silo-free joint action. The aim is to also strengthen the capacity of representative democracy to reform, the transparency of decision-making processes and increased opportunities for citizen influence.
Lea Konttinen, Senior Lead, Democracy and participation theme, Sitra, tel. +358 294 618 298, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ville Aula, PhD Researcher, London School of Economics and Political Science, tel. +358 400 200 848, email: email@example.com
Ilari Lovio, Specialist, Communications and Public Affairs, Sitra, tel. +358 50 364 8136, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sitra is a future fund that collaborates with partners from different sectors to research, trial and implement bold new ideas that shape the future. Our aim is a Finland that succeeds as a pioneer in sustainable well-being.
Subscribe to releases from Sitra
Subscribe to all the latest releases from Sitra by registering your e-mail address below. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Latest releases from Sitra
WCEF2022 invites the world to Africa on 6-8 December 2022 to build circular economy solutions22.6.2022 08:04:45 EEST | Press release
For the first time ever, the Global South will be in focus as this year’s World Circular Economy Forum takes place in Africa on 6–8 December 2022. Titled From Africa to the World, the forum will be held in Kigali, Rwanda and online, with Studios held in several cities across Africa. Global Studios may also take place in Africa and around the world.
WCEF2022 bjuder in världen till Afrika den 6–8 december 2022 för att tillsammans skapa lösningar för en cirkulär ekonomi22.6.2022 08:04:44 EEST | Tiedote
För första gången någonsin kommer det globala syd att stå i fokus, då årets World Circular Economy Forum äger rum i Afrika den 6–8 december 2022. Med titeln From Africa to the World kommer detta forum att arrangeras i Kigali, Rwanda och online, med studior i flera städer i Afrika och runt om i världen.
WCEF2022 kutsuu koko maailman Afrikkaan 6.–8. joulukuuta 2022 rakentamaan kiertotalousratkaisuja22.6.2022 08:04:42 EEST | Tiedote
Globaali etelä on ensimmäistä kertaa ikinä keskipisteenä, kun maailman kiertotalousfoorumi WCEF2022 järjestetään Afrikassa 6.–8. joulukuuta. Foorumin teemana on From Africa to the World (Afrikasta maailmalle). WCEF2022 järjestetään Ruandan Kigalissa ja verkossa. Lisäksi lähiosallistumisen sekä verkkolähetykset yhdistäviä studioita pidetään useissa kaupungeissa eri puolilla Afrikkaa, ja niitä voidaan järjestää myös ympäri maailmaa.
Finland klarar sig inte mot toppländerna i öppenhet inom parlamenten16.6.2022 02:00:00 EEST | Tiedote
I Brasilien och Kanada kan medborgare hitta alla anföranden, lagförslag och röstningar för sin riksdagsledamot genom ett knapptryck. I Finland finns det utvecklingspotential hos digitala tjänster som skulle öka riksdagens öppenhet, berättar en utredning som gjorts av Sitra.
Suomi ei pärjää parlamenttien avoimuuden vertailussa huippumaille16.6.2022 02:00:00 EEST | Tiedote
Brasiliassa ja Kanadassa kansalainen voi nappia painamalla löytää kaikki oman kansanedustajansa puheenvuorot, lakiesitykset ja äänestykset. Suomessa eduskunnan avoimuutta lisäävissä digitaalisissa palveluissa olisi kehitettävää, kertoo Sitran selvitys.
In our pressroom you can read all our latest releases, find our press contacts, images, documents and other relevant information about us.Visit our pressroom