The municipal assembly as a scene of local democracy and subaltern political experiences in Finland, 1865-1917

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


The municipal assembly was a key institution of local self-government in the rural districts of the Grand Duchy of Finland from 1865 to 1917. This chapter explores municipal assemblies as scenes of experience that shaped the ideas of local self-government, democracy, and exclusion from power among subaltern rural people. The vote in municipal assemblies was confined to taxpayers and was graduated according to income. This concentrated local power in the hands of wealthy landowners and left most adult people, including all married women, servants, and many workers, without a voice. However, by analyzing readers’ letters to newspapers, this chapter shows that disenfranchised people could appear in municipal assemblies and contribute to the debates on the democratization and rationalization of local government. Especially after the General Strike of 1905 and the following parliamentary reform in Finland, the municipal assemblies were increasingly affected by the mass pressure of subaltern people. In fact, in the decade before 1917 – the year when universal and equal suffrage was introduced in municipal elections – the municipal assembly institution found its most fervent supporters among socialist workers, who welcomed it as a form of participatory democracy and opposed its replacement with a representative system of local self-government.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSubaltern political subjectivities and practices in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries
Subtitle of host publicationBetween loyalty and resistance
EditorsKaren Lauwers, Sami Suodenjoki, Marnix Beyen
Place of PublicationNew York and London
ISBN (Electronic)9781003290087
ISBN (Print)9781032268163, 9781032268255
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jun 2023
Publication typeA3 Book chapter

Publication series

NameRoutledge Studies in Modern History


  • scene of experience
  • history of experience
  • local self-governent
  • labour movement
  • political representation
  • democracy

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 3


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