Does perfect democracy exist? When you look at the state of most countries in the world , Finnish democracy seems rather perfect. This is no wonder, since we rank high in global surveys, and our general and equal voting rights are among the oldest in the world. We have a free press, our politics are public and our judiciary system is independent. Citizens have the right to disagree with decision-makers and replace them in free elections.
However, there is always room for development in a democracy. Though we are doing well in global comparisons, we can still compete against ourselves. For example, declining voter turnouts in recent decades, general mistrust of people in politics, and the new ways of influencing require us to take a critical look at our own democracy and think of the ways it could still be developed.
The development of technology enables us to use direct democracy more actively. Although our representative government system, based on MPs, works well on long-term and on complicated issues, it would be perfectly possible and desirable to start applying direct means of action as well. In the future, direct referendums could be organized around all elections, like in Switzerland. Combining direct hearings with constitutional elections could also increase voting rates.
Work for better democracy in the parliament
Work for better democracy can also be done within the parliament. My colleague, Tiina Elovaara, has just set up a group called Parliament2030, which gathers MPs across party lines to develop the processes of decision-making. In addition to openness and transparency, the group has focused on the way in which politicians treat each other. If the essence of politics is in shortsighted smear campaigns and scandal hunts, it is difficult for voters to trust politicians and that they are thinking of the voters’ concerns and not only their own publicity.
Parties have a major role in reforming and developing of democracy. The only problem is that the old ruling parties in Finland were founded a hundred years ago and their practices are rooted in history. Now, when the world around us is changing at an accelerating pace, these parties and their methods are no longer able to attract the interests of citizens. The whole party system needs a reform.
I know from experience that creating a new party alongside giants is challenging. Party loyalty, party support and party organizations have an impact on the perseverance of established parties. I still think that by doing things differently, David can win his place in the field of democracy. After all, for a democracy to function, new parties must be born and old ones must change and even dissolve.
* Demo Finland regularly publishes columns by representatives of its member parties. The views expressed in the columns are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of Demo Finland.