Influencing the preparation of decisions and legislation
Under Finnish legislation, authorities must act in an open and transparent manner. Citizens must be provided with opportunities to protect their rights and interests, receive information about decisions being prepared by authorities, and influence decision-making on matters that concern them. Public authorities must consult citizens when they prepare matters that affect the citizens’ lives.
Under the Act on the Openness of Government Activities, the activities of authorities are guided by the principle of openness. This means, for example, that official documents are mainly public. Authorities must also inform the public about their activities and services as well as about the rights and obligations that private individuals and corporations have in matters falling within the authorities’ field of competence.
Everyone has the right to receive information about matters being prepared by authorities and participate in and influence the development of society and their own living environment. The Ministry of Justice maintains a variety of electronic democracy services to provide citizens and stakeholders with easy-to-use channels for participating in the preparation of matters and for influencing decisions. Authorities and decision-makers can use these services to ask for citizens’ and stakeholders’ opinions about matters being prepared. All democracy services are accessible through the website demokratia.fi, which also contains a broad range of background materials and links to different sources of information concerning civic activity and democracy.
Consultation is an integral part of the law drafting process. Consultation refers to a stage of the law drafting process where the key stakeholders' views, knowledge and experiences of the matter being prepared are obtained. Authorities, experts, associations and businesses, for example, are stakeholders. The purpose of consulting citizens and stakeholders is to ensure that the law drafting process is open, transparent and of high quality.
Guide to Consultation in Statute Drafting (in Finlex, available only in Finnish and Swedish)
In accordance with the principles of open government, citizens and stakeholders are entitled to participate in developing our common solutions and services. Authorities must inform the public of matters and decisions being prepared already at a stage where it is still genuinely possible for citizens and stakeholders to affect the planned measure. Finland is also committed to the objectives of the international Open Government Partnership Programme.
The Government works in close cooperation with bodies representing civil society and different population groups. The Advisory Board on Civil Society Policy (KANE), the Advisory Board for Ethnic Relations (ETNO) and the Advisory Board on Language Affairs operate in conjunction with the Ministry of Justice. The purpose and task of the advisory boards is to foster cooperation between civil society and public authorities and launch initiatives that aim to promote and enhance participation and exercise of influence among different population groups. The Government appoints the advisory boards for four years at a time.
Niklas Wilhelmsson, Ministerial Adviser
Ministry of Justice, Department for Democracy and Public Law, Democracy and Elections civic activity participatory rights democracy policy civic society Telephone:0295150348