Open Policy event with the Finnish Institute

On 28 June, the Open Data Institute, the Democratic Society, the Finnish Embassy and the Finnish Institute will host a talk and roundtable discussion on the latest developments in open policy and participation in Finland. 


The event will run from 1-5 pm, with a talk and Q&A at 1.00, and roundtable discussion from 2.00 to 5.00.
What will we be talking about?
In this event we will discuss current and potential initiatives to increase and improve citizens’ political participation, and government’s use of that participation. If our democratic system is to be trusted, citizens need to be able to see that their interests are advanced in an equal fashion. In order to achieve this, all decisions made by the representatives must be based on evidence that is available for public scrutiny.

Public trust towards politicians and parliaments has declined in many post-industrialised societies, and this is reflected in a steady decrease in election turnouts, and a collapse in political party membership. There is, in parallel, a growing demand for exploring new forms of participative democracy. New ideas are needed if we are to avoid a hollowed-out “post-democracy” and to restore the public trust in democratic policy making.

We will discuss this by analysing open knowledge and open data in the context of effective citizen participation. How can governments further empower their citizens to use new technologies in meaningful and effective ways?

Who will be talking?

Aleksi Rossi, a co-founder of Finnish NGO Open Ministry, will discuss the status quo of citizen initiatives in Finland and EU. Citizen initiatives have been enshrined in the Finnish constitution since March 2012 – if an initiative receives more than 50.000 signatures, then the Parliament is obliged to discuss and vote on the initiative.

After the lecture the room will be opened up for a collective discussion on pros and cons of open policy making and for a collaborative writing exercise, where the participants will work on an action plan on how to promote citizen initiatives and other forms of open policy making in the UK.

Who’s organising?

The Finnish Institute in London is a private, non-profit trust bringing together individuals, communities and organisations. Our mission is to identify emerging issues important to contemporary society in Finland, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. We encourage cross-disciplinary and cross-border collaboration by creating networks and building new partnerships.

The Democratic Society is a membership organisation that undertakes innovative projects to reconnect citizens and the state. It is hosting the Cabinet Office’s Open Policymaking discussion space ( and is working on networked democracy projects at local, UK and European level.

The Open Ministry (Avoin ministeriö) is about crowdsourcing legislation, deliberative and participatory democracy and citizens initiatives. It is a non-profit organization based in Helsinki, Finland. Open Ministry helps citizens and NGO’s with national citizens’ initiatives, EU citizens initiatives and develops the online services for collaborating, sharing and signing the initiatives.

How can I join?
You can join in person by emailing Susie Latta (, and we will be live tweeting the event from our @demsoclive twitter account. An audio recording of the talk will also be available after the event.

Published by Anthony Zacharzewski

Anthony Zacharzewski was one of the founders of Demsoc in 2006. Before starting work for Demsoc in 2010, he was a Whitehall civil servant and a local government officer.