FSD3541 Mustasaari Resident Survey on Municipal Referendums 2020

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  • Backström, Kim (Åbo Akademi University. Social Science Research Institute)
  • Karv, Thomas (Åbo Akademi University. Social Science Research Institute)


democracy, local government, local government policy, political attitudes, referendums, trust, voting


In 2019, a referendum was held in the bilingual municipality of Mustasaari (Korsholm) regarding the proposed merger of the municipality with the neighbouring city of Vaasa. This survey charted the effects of the 2019 referendum on the municipality's societal climate as well as Mustasaari residents' opinions on referendums in general. The survey was conducted as part of a research project at the Åbo Akademi University Social Science Research Institute (Samforsk), funded by Högskolestiftelsen i Österbotten.

First, the respondents' opinions on consultative referendums in general were surveyed. Questions focused on the respondents' positive and negative attitudes towards referendums as well as their thoughts on whether voter turnout or majority approval (e.g. over 50 percent vs two-thirds majority) should be considered when determining a referendum morally binding.

Next, opinions on the 2019 referendum were examined. The respondents were asked whether they thought it had been the right decision to hold the referendum, how they had voted, and whether similar referendums should be held regarding other matters in the municipality. Additionally, the survey charted the effects of the referendum process on the respondents' voting behaviour in the upcoming municipal elections, their relationships with friends and family, and their opinions on various aspects related to the municipality of Mustasaari (e.g. municipal representatives, the city of Vaasa, and relations between language groups in Mustasaari).

Finally, the respondents' views on politics and society in general were surveyed with questions on, for example, voting, politicians, and trust.

Background variables included the respondent's gender, age, mother tongue, level of education, status in employment, role in the municipality, and whether the respondent had attended the events organised by the municipality to facilitate discussion before the referendum.

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