The Finnish Centre for Democracy Research (FinDem) was established in 2015 by the discipline of Political Science of the University of Turku and disciplines of Political Science and Public Administration together with the Social Science Research Institute of Åbo Akademi University. Today, FinDem connects a plural array of disciplines, projects and other research centres, displaying the high quality and versatility of democracy research taking place in Turku.
Objectives of FinDem are to
- practice and promote cutting-edge basic and applied research
- initiate new research projects
- support educational cooperation between universities
- develop and innovate practices of democracy
- plan and implement research visits and other forms of international cooperation
- organize conferences and events
- act as an expert organization for the financiers and for the private, third and public sector actors from policy-makers to civil servants.
The discipline of Political Science at the University of Turku divides into two subunits, Political Systems and International Politics. Projects within the subunit of Political Systems include research on the role and performance of parliaments, political discourses and deliberation in parliaments and in other contexts, patterns of political competition, parties and party systems as well as new forms of democracy such as citizens’ initiatives and deliberative mini-publics. Projects within the subunit of International Politics focus on the question of democracy in the context of global and European governance. The unit is also a former host to the Public Choice Research Centre (PCRC).
Center for Parliamentary Studies (UTU)
Center for Parliamentary Studies (CfP) at the University of Turku is a research unit established in 2002 jointly by the University of Turku and the Finnish Parliament Eduskunta. Its task is to carry out and promote research on Finnish democracy, parliamentarism and Finnish parliament. Since its establishment, the CfP has realized a 12-volume series on the history and operation of Eduskunta and Finnish democracy plus a host of other research projects, mostly with external funding. In addition to research CfP is a leading provider of expert commentary on Finnish politics for media outlets both in Finland and abroad.
The unit of Philosophy at the University of Turku focuses on philosophy of political and social sciences, among other areas of research.
John Morton Center for North American Studies (UTU)
The John Morton Center for North American Studies caters for interdisciplinary and multi-methodological research on the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The Center’s focus is on a range of sociopolitical, economic, and cultural issues in North America, also with a keen eye to their hemispheric and transnational ramifications. The JMC’s activities include a research network, frequent “Current Issues” seminars, conferences, annual thematic workshops, and a blog. Our vision is to strengthen Finnish, inter-Nordic, inter-European, and trans-Atlantic research collaboration and to become the main forum in Finland to facilitate North American Studies dialogue.
Political Science at the Åbo Akademi University focuses on the connection between state formation and democratization in new state formations. The main research question is the following: Is it possible to predict the form of political regime in new states based on information regarding the processes that lead to the formation of the state? Within the framework of the project an extensive database on state formation has been compiled. The dataset will be open to the public in the future.
Public Administration (ÅAU)
Public Administration at the Åbo Akademi University has three main research areas, all connected to central democratic processes in the society. Local government structures are in focus for the subject, including local democracy development within existing institutions as local elections, but also innovative, participatory methods run by local governments. Another scope is the organizational setting that secures stable democracy in our society. Finally, a specific research area is urban governance structures in a European and Baltic Region setting, especially within the policy area of sustainable development.
Social Science Research Institute (ÅAU)
The Social Science Research Institute at Åbo Akademi University is specialized in research on public opinion, political behavior and electoral studies, as well as in experimental research on citizen deliberation. We are especially interested in democratic innovations, more precisely what happens when citizen participation in democratic decision-making is enhanced. Currently, the Institute coordinates the Finnish National Election Study (FNES), which is part of the international collaborative Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES). The researchers of the Institute are well connected in the international political science community. Thus, the Institute also hosts a Visiting Fellowship program. The Institute is located at both campuses of Åbo Akademi University, in Åbo (Turku) and Vasa (Vaasa).
The Future of Democracy (FutuDem) Center of Excellence
The Center of Excellence ”The Future of Democracy” (FutuDem) (1 March 2019 – 28 February 2023) sets out to study democracy with a comparative and multi-methodological approach. We decipher the current condition of democracy and test new deliberative and participatory models of democracy in order to make claims and suggestions regarding the future of democracy. This funding boosts Åbo Akademi’s position as the leading university in research on public opinion in Finland. The Social Science Research Institute (Samforsk) coordinates the Centre and brings together political scientists from Åbo and Vasa. FutuDem collaborates with leading democracy scholars in the world. It also tries to give policy-makers advice on how to involve citizens in democratic decision-making. This is done in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice, the City of Turku, and the Finnish and Swedish associations of local and regional authorities.
Participation in Long-Term Decision-Making (PALO)
Participation in Long-Term Decision-Making (PALO) (1 September 2017 – 28 February 2022) project addresses the problem of short-termism in public decision-making and governance. Although there is plenty of information about long-term consequences of human action, this information has limited influence on policy-making. For example, electoral terms arguably shorten politicians’ time spans in representative democracies. As a solution, PALO tests and develops deliberative practices of citizen participation and decision-making. PALO is a multidisciplinary research project that analyzes problems of practices of long-term decision-making, for example, by using experimental methods. It also aims to develop new forms of citizen participation in local and regional governance and land use planning. The project is led by Prof. Maija Setälä. In addition to University of Turku, Natural Resources Institute Finland, Åbo Akademi University and University of Tampere are involved in PALO consortium. The project is funded by the Strategic Research Council of the Academy of Finland. Additional information available at: