|Influencing tools||Graphical version|
Political influence is often considered as action aimed at public decision-making. The Parliament of Finland, a local council or the EU decides matters about which people wish to express their own opinion.
Traditional means of exerting influence include voting in elections, holding a position of responsibility in one’s place of residence or, for example, being active in a local residents association.
However, the idea of political influence needs to be considered in a much broader concept. Politics does not only mean participation in the public decision-making process. Personal choices and ways of life are also highly political. People feel they can influence through consumption and even investment decisions.
People feel the need to influence on very different matters of various sizes ranging from their own environment to global issues. Politics plays a part in deciding the location of the nearest health centre, the rate of fuel tax as well as in the rules of play of international trade.
There are almost unlimited means of exerting influence. The subpages of this section feature some of the most common means of political influence.
The means of influence can be differentiated on the basis of what the focus of influence is and its scope, for instance as follows:
In reality, the boundaries between different means are very flexible. Writing a letter to a local newspaper can be considered both public debate and engagement in decision-making. The activity of a local residents association can be an effective exertion of local influence or a pleasant pastime where you can meet neighbours.
Politicising means different things to different people – not everyone considers consumer behaviour, for example, as being in any way “political”, but related rather to individual personal health and well-being.
Updated on October 12, 2006
Checklist: How to make a difference
Before taking any action, anyone trying to make a difference should perhaps consider the following points: