Encouraging a longer time horizon: the Committee for the Future in the Finnish Eduskunta

As recent debates about climate change indicate, public policy-making is often criticised as being predominantly reactive, with politicians responding in piece-meal fashion to current problems. How well legislatures can predict the future or prepare for it is thus a question really worth asking. Focusing on the Finnish Eduskunta, this paper critically examines the role of the Committee for the Future, a unique parliamentary institution that was established in 1993 ‘to generate dialogue with the government on major future problems and opportunities’. Drawing on parliamentary documents and elite interviews, the paper explores the Committee’s role through its unique tasks and working practices, and assesses whether its position has institutionalised within the Eduskunta and Finnish state administration more generally. The paper also evaluates the Committee’s impact on Finnish long-term politics, identifies its strengths and weaknesses, and puts forward practical recommendations for turning legislatures into more forward-thinking institutions.

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