Finnish citizens have been given even more power to shape their government thanks to two initiatives launched this year: a constitutional amendment requiring every proposal with 50,000 signatures be voted on by the parliament, and the recent approval by that parliament of a secure online platform that makes it that much easier for eligible voters to propose new laws. The proposals can take one of two forms: general (which would require extra formatting) or very specific, with the same language and format as an actual government bill. The latter can be decided by a simple yes/no vote, with a “yes” turning the bill into law immediately.
What’s the Big Idea?
With 4.2 million Finns of voting age, 50,000 signatures translates to just over 1 percent of the eligible population, which represents a comfortably-sized grassroots movement. Also, the online interface allows citizens to study and research the proposals in detail before signing on. In other countries, the concept of crowdsourced legislation would barely get off the ground, but thanks to another groundbreaking law making fast access a legal right, Finns may be leading the way towards a new form of democracy.
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