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Tapio Rantala (email)

Democratic legitimacy of the forest sector and nature conservation decision-making in Finnish print media discussion

Rantala T. (2011). Democratic legitimacy of the forest sector and nature conservation decision-making in Finnish print media discussion. Silva Fennica vol. 45 no. 1 article id 35. https://doi.org/10.14214/sf.35

Abstract

The study explores perceived democratic legitimacy of forest-related decision-making processes in the Finnish print media discourse. The data consists of the readers’ letters in four journals (n = 530), and the comments given during the preparation of the Finnish National Forest Program (n = 140). The objective is to identify the patterns of democratic legitimacy and respective performance evaluations of actual decision-making processes. The patterns can be classified as support for: (A) democracy and other forms of government, (B) different forms of participation, and (C) principles of democracy. The principles can be further classified into 1) core regime, 2) input, 3) throughput, and 4) output principles. Democratic legitimacy was found to be an important source of legitimacy in the public discussion since democratic patterns were found in more than half of the texts. The most common core legitimacy principles included freedom of speech, good national and international standing, forerunnership, and legality at national and international level. The central principles related to input legitimacy included popular sovereignty, a voice for the people, popular participation, openness, presenting alternatives, and urgency. The consensus and majority rules were found to be the most prominent throughput principles. Democratic output legitimacy included accountability, responsibility, cooperation, commitment, responsiveness, the possibility to appeal, credibility, comprehensiveness, and understandability. The findings suggest that among the writers of readers’ letters there is less contestation regarding the principles of democratic legitimacy but there are significant disagreements concerning the performance of decision-making processes. The negative performance evaluations were two times more frequent than the positive evaluations.

Keywords
legitimacy; democracy; policy evaluation; forest policy; nature conservation policy; national forest program; nature conservation program

Author Info
  • Rantala, Department of Forest Sciences, P.O. Box 27, FI-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland ORCID ID:E-mail tapio.rantala@helsinki.fi (email)

Received 11 May 2010 Accepted 28 December 2010 Published 31 December 2011

Available at https://doi.org/10.14214/sf.35 | Download PDF

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