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FSD2997 Nordic Member of Parliament Survey 1995-1996: Finnish Data

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Authors

  • Wiberg, Matti (University of Tampere. Department of Political Science and International Relations)

Keywords

decision making, environment, equality between the sexes, mass media, members of parliament, party politics, political institutions, political participation, political parties, political power, politics

Abstract

The data were collected as part of the Nordleg project which collected information from Nordic members of parliament. The survey charted the activity of the Members of the Finnish Parliament as well as their opinions and views on the Finnish society, politics, influence of the EU and other political actors in Finland, mass media, and gender equality in the Parliament.

The respondents were first asked whether they thought that the majority of their party's voters would be in favour or against different suggestions made in public political discussion (e.g. bridging the income gap, prohibition of pornography, construction of additional nuclear power plants). Opinions were surveyed on the significance of tensions/conflicts between different groups in Finnish politics (e.g. rural residents - urban dwellers, the religious - the non-religious). Views were probed on whether the economy, environment, standard of living, equality of living conditions, gender equality, and individual freedom would improve or decline in the following 15 years. Opinions on the things and phenomena threatening the Finnish society at the time of the survey and in the future were investigated (e.g. environmental degradation, inflation, number of refugees, conflict between the Western world and the Muslim world, rise of political extremism, increasing political power of the EU).

The respondents were requested to place themselves, the majority of the voters of their party, and other major parties in the Parliament on three different ten-point scales; the left-right scale, the environmental issues scale (not at all green - very green), and the EU attitude scale. Relating to media, the respondents were asked when they had last been interviewed in different media, whether the media presented a correct picture of the Parliament and its work, and whether a number of descriptions applied to the Finnish media (e.g. "The Finnish media treats MPs in a fair and proper manner").

Importance of different tasks of the Parliament and the Members of Parliament was charted. With regard to party discipline and the party line, the respondents were asked how an MP should vote in controversial situations, how well they were able to influence the party line, whether party discipline should be stricter or more lenient, and whether they agreed or disagreed with the 'norms' relating to party discipline (e.g. "Political initiatives should not be made without party approval").

Importance of various factors for MP's influence in the parliamentary group (e.g. good contacts with the media, strong support among experts) was surveyed as well as how often the respondents used their turn to speak in the meetings of the parliamentary group and whether ministers, chairmen, and ordinary MPs of the parliamentary group had too much or too little influence. Opinions were charted on how much influence different groups, bodies and organisations had and how much influence they should have in the Parliament, in the Finnish society and in EU decision-making.

With regard to MP's work, the respondents were asked about working conditions and ways of working in the Parliament, workload and complexity of work, cooperation with other MPs, ability to spend time with family, and desire to continue as an MP in the future. Relating to equality between the sexes, questions probed whether the party position had changed as a result of increasing number of women in parliamentary groups, and how important different reasons for equal gender representation in the Parliament were. Finally, the respondents who had previously been MPs were asked about the sources of ideas for initiatives, contacts with various organisations, and frequency of contacting a minister in different issues.

Background variables included the respondent's political party, gender, age group, language skills, foreign newspaper reading habits, occupational group and employer type before being selected as an MP, and experience in the Parliament.

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