One year since the Act on citizens' initiative entered into force - A few dozen citizens' initiatives already launched
According to the Act on citizens' initiative, which entered into force in the beginning of March 2012, at least fifty thousand Finnish citizens entitled to vote have the right to submit an initiative for the enactment of an act to the Parliament. One year after the Act entered into force, citizens seem to be eager to use this right.
Statements of support are currently being collected for 38 initiatives in the online service Kansalaisaloite.fi, which is maintained by the Ministry of Justice.
The service has been in use for three months. The website has 7 000-10 000 visitors a day, and over 100 000 statements of support have been submitted electronically via the service. Up to now, 48 initiatives have been launched in the service. A couple of new initiatives are launched each week.
The online service is free of charge, accessible and safe to use. It is available in Finnish and Swedish. Statements of support may be collected also for such initiatives for which the collection is already ongoing in other online services or on paper.
A citizens' initiative may include either a bill or a proposal that a bill drafting process should be started. An initiative may also concern amending or repealing an effective act.
The statements of support must be collected within six months. They can be collected both on paper and electronically online. A specific form certified by the Ministry of Justice must be used for the collection of statements of support in paper form.
Launching of an initiative and collection of statements of support online always require so-called strong e-identification, for example the use of online bank codes or a mobile certificate provided by telecommunications operators.
So far, one of the launched initiatives has reached the required number of supporters and is to be considered by the Parliament. The statements of support for the initiative were collected mostly on paper.
Online service for initiatives to municipal authorities opens this springThe online service for citizens' initiatives is a part of the e-participation environment Otakantaa.fi that aims to increase citizens' opportunities to participate and interaction between different instances taking part in the social decision-making.
Otakantaa.fi offers tools for online participation for broader groups of people. Municipalities, organisations and citizens can bring their projects up for discussion in Otakantaa.fi. It is also possible to create polls for certain target groups in the service. In the future, the service will also include several other functions.
During this spring, the Ministry of Justice will open an online service for launching initiatives to municipal authorities. By the end of the year, Otakantaa.fi is planned to include a service that helps authorities collect comments and opinions on their current projects.
Otakantaa.fi is a part of the Action Programme on eServices and eDemocracy (SADe) coordinated by the Ministry of Finance.
Kaisa Tiusanen, Ministerial Adviser, tel. 02951 50454, and
Laura Nurminen, Project Manager, tel. 02951 50462,
email: [email protected]