5.1 General context
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Definitions and concepts
The definitions and concepts relating to participation used in Finland are the same as the ones used in broader European discussion. Therefore, there are no significant country-specific definitions and concepts.
Institutions of representative democracy
Finland is a centralised parliamentary democracy. Power in Finland is vested in the people, who are represented by deputies assembled in Parliament. Legislative power is exercised by Parliament, with the President of the Republic having only a minor role. The Cabinet of Finland is the highest level of government of the state, which consists of the Prime Minister and a requisite number of ministers. Members of the Government shall have the confidence of the Parliament.
Local authorities (municipalities, see the Glossary) have broad responsibility for the provision of basic services to citizens. They have strong self-government based on local democracy and decision-making, and the right to levy taxes. In municipalities, the highest decision-making authority is vested in local councils that are elected by residents. The role of municipalities will be changed in the near future, due to ongoing regional government reform (for more information, visit Youth Wiki/Finland 7.8 Current debates and reforms).
Finland has a multi-party electoral system. Electors (those eligible to vote) vote directly for the person they want to be elected. Voting is voluntary and a person entitled to vote may vote either 1) in advance or 2) by ballot on election day. Voters may cast their votes at the polling station stated in the voting register and on the polling card sent to them before the elections.