In Finland citizens can make a suggestion for new legislation by collecting 50 000 verified signatures on a common initiative. This Citizens’ Initiative is therefore more than just one more policy. Making lobbying transparent enables our parliament to work in a more honest manner. Citizens do have the right to know who uses power and has influence on issues of common interest.
Current situation in Finland
In a democracy it is fundamental that different parties and interest groups are heard in a comprehensive, open and equal manner. In order to clarify and understand the consequences of decisions, it is vital to listen to everyone, from citizens to experts, companies and organizations, to be able to utilize their expertise and knowledge resources.
But lobbying becomes problematic if it happens in secrecy and without transparency. Political decision-making can be distorted and benefit only those who have the most resources or the closest contacts with the decision-makers.
”In Finland, the lobbying is much less regulated than in Brussels, actually, there are no rules whatsoever. In Finland, you have no idea what is appropriate and what is wrong. ” Heidi Hautala, MEP, states in her book “Brussels Myyty” title meaning “Brussels sold”.
Citizens do have the right to know how different interest groups affect both the politicians and the officials. It is also voter´s responsibility to evaluate the integrity of the government, therefore the strive for obtain access for the information do exist. It has to be publically determined that different parties have been heard equally in public.
The Citizens´ Initiative – Make lobbying transparent
This Citizens´ Initiative makes lobbying transparent by creating openness within the procedures of our Parliament.
The ambition is to regulate for common routines in how the MPs’ meetings with different interest groups should be documented while not endangering the personal privacy.
information about participants, organizations and clients in meetings with various stakeholders should be published in an open lobbyist register.
Furthermore the liasons of The Members of The Parliament, registered at sidonnaisuusrekisteri.fi, and all proceedings should also be published as open data. This would considerably facilitate research in this matter.
As the supreme decision-making body in our country, the Parliament should provide a good example for the entire government regarding transparency and implementation of publicity. The Citizens’ Initiative gives a good head-start to this.