Ethical codes in local government: the problem of gifting - Views of the Finnish Councillors

Ari Salminen, Lotta Pitkänen, Lauri Heiskanen


The article explores the purpose of ethical codes in Finnish local government and discusses such topics as identification of codes and dilemmas, ethical awareness of gifting, role of codes and need of codes. The data is based on the Councilor Survey. The respondents of the survey are the members of Finnish municipal councils. The Survey is targeted to the 200 biggest municipalities and was distributed to the councilors in November 2012. More than 5000 persons received the questionnaire, which was returned by nearly 1300.

According to the results, the recognition of ethical codes is low among the councilors. The amount of those who operate without the guidance of codes is remarkable. The councilors are aware what is and what is not acceptable in gifting and are convinced that they are capable of self-control when it comes to potential integrity violations.

The attitudes towards the role of codes are contradictory. The councilors want more detailed guidance. They still emphasize that codes should leave room for their own discretion. The need for more regulation by codes is stressed by the councilors. The codes should be targeted for specific issues and the elected members should have their own ethical codes.

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Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration

School of Public Administration, Box 712 - SE-405 30 Göteborg

ISSN: 2001-7405, E-ISSN: 2001-7413