'Democracy' and 'People's Power' in the Finnish Parliament: the Struggle between Representative, Participatory and Direct Democracy

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Abstract

The Finnish language is one that offers two translations of the
concept ‘democracy,’ demokratia and kansanvalta (people’s
power), which have remained in active political use. We analyse
the existence of two terms as a linguistic affordance, providing
political agents with possibilities for resisting and supporting the
prevailing interpretations of democracy. We ask how and where
the different versions occur in parliamentary speech (1980–2021)
and in the MPs’ interviews (1998–2018). In quantitative analysis,
we study the relative appearance of words close to these terms.
In qualitative analysis, we study such terms (e.g. representative,
Finnish and western) that have different profiles with demokratia
and kansanvalta and study how these terms characterise and shape
democracy. This way, we are able to question the dictionary-based
understanding of these terms as synonyms. The difference between
them is both geographical, kansanvalta referring more strictly to
domestic phenomena, and functional, since demokratia covers
most of the issues of procedural democracy and kansanvalta more
distinctively the realisation of the presumed will of the people.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-140
Number of pages24
JournalRedescriptions: Political Thought, Conceptual History and Feminist Theory
Volume26
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2023
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • democracy, parliament, digital history, conceptual history, rhetoric

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

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