Research at Political Science

Strategic emphasis of the Political Science is on democracy research. The Political Science unit co-operates with other universities in research, especially with the Åbo Akademi University. The two universities have established jointly The Finnish Centre for Democracy Research.

Profile of International Relations Subprogramme

​Research within the International Politics subunit focuses on international actors, their policies and interaction; the structures and processes of the world political system; and global problems and their management and resolution through international cooperation. The international Politics researchers also explore philosophical, methodological and other questions related to the history and development of IR. In recent years, various issues or security and securitization, as well as foreign policy analysis, both nationally and in the EU, have dominated the agenda. The rapid changes of the Chinese polity have also attracted a great deal of attention. 

Political Systems Subprogramme

The study of the Political systems at the Department has a wide variety of research focuses. Overall, issues related to the functioning of the democracy have dominated the research agenda. Many of the ongoing research are related to democractic institutions, their design and evaluation. The methods employed range from purely theoretical analyses to experimental and comparative techniques.

More concretely, projects within Political Systems include research on the role and performance of parliaments, political discourses and deliberation in parliaments and other contexts, the patterns of political competition, parties and party systems, as well as new forms of democracy such as citizens' initiatives and deliberative mini-publics. Following the tradition of Public Choice Research Centre (PCRC, 2008-) formal modelling is applied especially in the study of collective decision-making and common pool resources. Another noteworthy strand is experimental research which is used to analyze the effects of institutional environments on individual and group decision-making.

Facing system change together: Citizen deliberation in informed and just climate transitions (FACTOR)

Climate change mitigation and adaptation require actions that citizens consider legitimate. The research project FACTOR investigates how citizens can more broadly be included in the discussions concerning climate measures, and how deliberative mini-publics can help in promoting a just and efficient climate transition. Together, by deliberating on diverse viewpoints and sharing information we aim at just and knowledge-based climate decisions.

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Foreign acquisitions and political retaliation as threats to supply security in an era of strategic decoupling (ForAc)

This research project, funded by the Academy of Finland, studies how small open economies can shield enterprises critical for their supply security from strategic foreign acquisitions and political retaliation, while still maintaining their open economies. This question has become pressing, as recent years have seen active efforts by state-linked economic organisations to acquire foreign enterprises that possess critical technological know-how, or perform vital tasks in national supply systems. This project combines three research areas in an innovative, interdisciplinary way: supply security, economic statecraft and strategic enterprise acquisitions. There are critical knowledge gaps in the inter-linkages between these research areas with urgent policy implications, which this project will address.

>> Web-site of ForAc

Foresight and Future Generations in Law-Making (FORGE)

FORGE - Foresight and Future Generations in Law-Making. The project analyzes future generations’ moral, legal and political status in the legislative process and aims to explore the grounds of future generations’ rights from the point of view of sustainable development.

FORGE is funded by VN TEAS and is part of Finnish Government's Government report on the future.

Contact Person: Professor Maija Setälä

Just Recovery from Covid-19? (JuRe)

Just Recovery from Covid-19? Fundamental Rights, Legitimate Governance and Lessons Learnt (JuRe)

The research consortium JuRe explores the ways in which the political, legal and administrative systems in Finland and elsewhere can guarantee that the post-pandemic recovery happens in a fair and justified manner. The consortium brings together research on international relations, political science, political history, public administration and law, constitutional law in particular. JuRe’s research enables a distinct consultative role in the political, legislative and administrative processes that can enhance a sense of just recovery among the country’s citizens. It provides elements for a sound constitutional settlement for post-pandemic recovery, and it has its focus on openness of decision-making, citizens’ trust in legal oversight and balanced enforcement of individual and collective fundamental rights, often through cross-country comparisons. The consortium joins researchers from the Universities of Helsinki, Tampere and Turku.

More information: Professor Henri Vogt

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Participation in Long-Term Decision-Making (PALO)

1 September 2017 – 28 February 2022

Participation in Long-Term Decision-Making (PALO) 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 aims to develop deliberative practices of citizen participation and decision-making. Our point of departure is that policy-making practices should be developed so that future interests are taken better into account.
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.

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Public Choice Research Centre (PCRC) 2008-2012

Members of the Centre utilize the methods of microeconomics and analytic philosophy to the study of political and social life. They specialize in the study of institutional design, decision making and policy evaluation. The evaluative, performance and outcome oriented approach is the distinctive and unifying characteristic of the Centre scholarship. The Centre consists of two large research groups with widely overlapping memberships.

  1. Design of decision-making institutions and policy analysis. Specific projects of this group include decision-making procedures and power measurement as well as the relationships of various game-theoretic solution concepts. Particular emphasis is laid on institutions of the European Union.
  2. Democratic governance. The methodological approaches resorted to include conceptual analysis, argumentation theory, computer simulations as well as experimental methods. Key subjects under scrutiny in this group are deliberative democracy, referendum institutions and consensus reaching procedures.
The life cycle of an electoral pledge in a multiparty democracy

Researchers Juha Ylisalo and Kimmo Makkonen.