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Local residents’ participation 

The municipality’s residents and service users have the right to participate in and influence the activities of the municipality. The City Council must ensure that there are diverse and effective opportunities for participation.

Alongside representative democracy, citizens want more methods of direct influence

Representation is based on the voting rights of the municipalities’ residents in local elections every four years, when residents elect their representatives to municipal councils. Studies show that support for direct participation among municipality residents has grown: citizens would like to have more opportunities for direct democracy, such as referendums and different types of interaction, to support decision making. Current representative democracy alone does not sufficiently meet citizen’s demands (Helsingin Sanomat 268/2014).

Means of participating and exerting influence

  • According to section 23 of the Local Government Act, the residents of a municipality have the right to submit initiatives on matters concerning the municipality’s activities. The initiative will be dealt with by the decision-making body within whose purview it belongs. The initiative must have wider or more general significance for it to be classified as an initiative (compare feedback). Action undertaken as a result of an initiative must be notified to those who submitted the initiative. Anonymous initiatives will not be processed. Instead, the person(s) submitting the initiative must give their contact details at the end of the form. 

    Please submit a local resident’s initiative electronically, if possible 

    Primarily, a local resident’s initiative should be submitted electronically using the service allocated for it, which requires logging in with your bank’s verification process or by using your mobile ID. 

    Electronic local resident’s initiative (in Finnish) 

    If you cannot fill in the form for a local resident’s initiative electronically, you can use the printable PDF form for submitting an initiative in writing. A paper initiative should be sent to the Record Office’s email address at or by post to: 

    City of Kajaani/Record Office (kirjaamo)
    Pohjolankatu 13
    87100 Kajaani 

    Link: printable form for a local resident’s initiative (PDF) (in Finnish)

  • An initiative for a municipal referendum must be made by at least five per cent of the municipality’s residents who are entitled to vote. The City Council must decide without delay whether the referendum intended in the initiative will be held. The City Council may decide to hold a referendum on a matter concerning the municipality. Referenda shall be non-binding and indicative. A referendum may be undertaken on a matter concerning all or a sub-area of the municipality. A sub-area of a municipality shall be one or more of the voting districts in the local elections. All eligible voters have an equal right to vote. Voting shall be by secret ballot. The procedures of a municipal referendum are decreed separately. 

    • Arranging opportunities for discussion and for views to be presented and setting up local resident panels. 
    • Finding out residents’ opinions before taking decisions. 
    • Electing representatives of service users to municipal decision-making bodies. 
    • Arranging opportunities to participate in the planning of the municipality’s finances. 
    • Planning and developing services together with service users.
    • Supporting independent planning and preparation of matters by residents, organisations and other corporate entities. 
  • In Kajaani, the City Board has appointed the Youth Council, the Older People’s Council and the Disability Council. 

    Vuolijoki Regional Committee began operating in 2016 

    The recently amended Local Government Act includes a section on sub-area decision-making bodies. The local council may establish sub-area local authority committees or sub-area management boards to further the opportunities of residents in a sub-area of the city to exert an influence. A sub-area decision-making body must be given the opportunity to provide a statement during the preparation of the city strategy, the budget and financial plan, and in matters in which the decision could have a significant impact on the living environment, employment or other circumstances of the municipality’s residents and service users. Provisions on the duties and powers of sub-area decision-making bodies shall be given in the administrative regulations.