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NEWS FROM LAHTI PILOT: Participatory budgeting in the Finnish City of Lahti – unfamiliar but interesting

Nowadays changes are sought after in society to supplement traditional means of democratic participation such as voting in elections. Participatory budgeting (PB) where inhabitants get a chance to take part in municipal decision making regarding economic and resourcing decisions are one way of modernizing the system.

The City of Lahti – the Finnish pilot municipality - and EmPaci – EmPowering Participatory Budgeting in the Baltic Sea Region -project partners from LAB University of Applied Sciences and Tampere University are currently working on these issues. To find out how the inhabitants of Lahti feel about participation and participatory budgeting, they conducted an inhabitant survey “Participation and influencing in Lahti” in October 2019.

The results are in and the feedback very positive. Over 1000 replies were gathered, most of which by an electronic Webropol survey system chosen alongside a traditional letter survey to make answering quick and easy for inhabitants. According to the survey, the inhabitants of the City of Lahti in Finland are interested in participation and want to take part in municipal decision making. The idea of participatory budgeting (PB) was found interesting even though the concept was unfamiliar to most. It seems clear that inhabitants in Lahti want to have their say in municipal decision making which is a good starting point for future piloting of PB.

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Annukka Heinonen

Project manager, EmPaci, LAB University of Applied Sciences