The Finnish Citizens’ Initiative: Towards Inclusive Agenda-setting?

A1 Journal article (refereed)


Internal Authors/Editors


Publication Details

List of Authors: Henrik Serup Christensen, Maija Jäske, Maija Setälä, Elias Laitinen
Publication year: 2017
Journal: Scandinavian Political Studies


Abstract

This article examines whether the Citizens' Initiative (CI) in Finland has enhanced inclusion in processes of political agenda-setting. Democratic innovations such as CIs have been proposed as a solution to the challenges facing Western democracies. CIs are expected to increase political inclusion by allowing citizens to set the political agenda and by mobilising otherwise marginalised or passive citizens. However, the empirical evidence on this proposition remains scarce. This study examines the impact of the CI in Finland on political inclusion. It relies on the Civic Voluntarism Model (CVM) to determine whether the CI mobilises citizens who otherwise tend to be less involved in political matters and thereby enhances inclusiveness. The data come from the Finnish National Election Study 2015 (FNES2015), which is a cross-sectional representative survey conducted in the wake of the national parliamentary elections in April 2015. Logistic regression models are used in the article to examine the relative importance of socioeconomic resources and civic skills, psychological political engagement and recruitment networks. The results show that while users have many of the familiar traits of political activists, the CI also activates marginalised groups. Most importantly, young citizens are likely to support CIs and the Internet constitutes a central recruitment network. In this sense, the CI has helped increase democratic inclusiveness.


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