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Encyclopedia > Constitution of Finland
Finland

This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
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Image File history File links Coat_of_arms_of_Finland. ... Finland has a primarily parliamentary system, although the president also has some notable powers. ...



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For the constitution of the Grand Duchy of Finland see: Swedish Constitution of 1772

The Constitution of Finland (in Finnish, Suomen perustuslaki, or in Swedish, Finlands grundlag) is the supreme source of national law of Finland. It defines the basis, structures and organisation of government, the relationship between the different constitutional organs, and lays out the fundamental rights of Finnish citizens. The original Constitution Act was enacted in 1919, soon after Finland declared it's Independence in 1917, but the current Constitution came into force on 1 March 2000. The President of Finland (Suomen Tasavallan Presidentti; Republiken Finlands President) is the Head of State of Finland. ... Tarja Kaarina Halonen (born December 24, 1943) is the President of Finland. ... The Prime Minister (Finnish Pääministeri, Swedish: Statsminister) is the head of government in Finland. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... The Eduskunta (in Finnish), or the Riksdag (in Swedish), is the Parliament of Finland. ... The Council of State (Finnish: Valtioneuvosto, Swedish: StatsrÃ¥det) is Finlands cabinet; it directs the Government of Finland. ... Politics of Finland See also [[List of political parties in Åland|political parties in Åland]]. Categories: Election related stubs | Elections in Finland | Finnish politics ... Eduskunta election in 1945 was held from March 17 to 18, 1945. ... The 2003 Finnish parliamentary election was held on Sunday, 16 March 2003, with the aim of determining the composition of the Finnish parliament, or Eduskunta, for the parliamentary period between 2003 and 2007. ... The next Finnish general election is scheduled to be held on 18 March 2007. ... The 2006 Finnish Presidential election saw the reelection of Tarja Halonen as President of Finland for a second six-year term. ... The European Parliament building in Strasbourg The inside of the building The European Parliament (formerly European Parliamentary Assembly) is the parliamentary body of the European Union (EU), directly elected by EU citizens once every five years. ... Elections to the European Parliament were held in Finland on June 13, 2004. ... Political parties in Finland lists political parties in Finland. ... Finland consists of 6 provinces (Finnish: läänit, Swedish: län). ... The municipalities (kunta in Finnish, kommun in Swedish) represent the local level of administration in Finland and act as the fundamental administrative units of the country. ... Finland’s basic foreign policy goal, from the end of the Continuation War with the U.S.S.R. in 1944 until 1991, was to avoid great-power conflicts and to build mutual confidence with the Soviet Union. ... Human rights in Finland are protected by extensive domestic safeguards, in addition to the countrys active membership in most international human rights treaties. ... The European Union or EU is a supranational and intergovernmental union of 25 European states. ... Image File history File links European_flag. ... Information on politics by country is available for every country, including both de jure and de facto independent states, inhabited dependent territories, as well as areas of special sovereignty. ... The Grand Duchy of Finland was a state that existed 1809–1917 as part of the Russian Empire. ... Swedens Constitution of 1772 took effect through a bloodless coup détat carried out by King Gustavus III, establishing a brief absolute monarchy in Sweden. ... Citizenship in Finland can be obtained on the basis of birth, marriage of parents, adoption, or the place of birth. ... 1919 (MCMXIX) was a common year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar). ... 1917 (MCMXVII) was a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar (see link for calendar) or a common year starting on Tuesday of the 13-day slower Julian calendar. ... March 1 is the 60th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (61st in leap years). ... This article is about the year 2000. ...

Contents


Historical background and reform

Finland's current constitutional laws are: the Constitution Act of Finland (2000); the Parliament Act (1995); the Procedure of Parliament (2000) and the Act on the High Court of Impeachment (1995). This article is about the year 2000. ... 1995 (MCMXCV) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... This article is about the year 2000. ... 1995 (MCMXCV) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


The fundamental principles of the Constitution Act of 1919 remained unchanged during the first fifty years of Finnish independence, as there was little pressure or need for any amendments to the Constitution Act. However, this did not prevent the Constitution adapting to the changing needs of the day. The flexibility of the Finnish Constitution is due to the use of exceptive laws, a distinctive feature of the Finnish system.


The first major constitutional reform came in 1983, with the re-writing of many important provisions governing parliamentary procedure, mostly in the Parliament Act. However, the most extensive and important reforms came in 1987, when provisions on the holding of consultative referenda were added to the Constitution. The indirect form of electing the President of the Republic via an electoral college was replaced by a system which combined the electoral college with direct election, and the provisions governing the postponement of ordinary legislation were amended by shortening the period for which a bill could be postponed. 1983 (MCMLXXXIII) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... 1987 (MCMLXXXVII) was a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ... A referendum (plural: referendums or referenda) or plebiscite (from Latin plebiscita, a decree of the Concilium Plebis) is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. ...


In 1991, the direct popular election of the President was introduced, with provision for a second ballot where necessary. The new system was used for the first time in 1994. The President's term of office was also limited to two consecutive terms of six years, and the President’s powers were also limited in that he or she could henceforth only dissolve Parliament on receipt of a reasoned request from the Prime Minister and having first consulted the Speaker and the party groups in Parliament, and only while Parliament was in session. The 1991 reform also amended the provisions in the Constitution Act and the Parliament Act relating to State finances. 1991 (MCMXCI) was a common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... 1994 (MCMXCIV) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar, and was designated as the International Year of the Family and the International Year of the Sport and the Olympic Ideal by United Nations. ...


The extensive reform of Basic Rights in Chapter II of the Constitution Act came into force in August 1995, and the remaining powers of a one third minority to postpone ordinary legislation to the next Parliament were now abolished, marking the final transition to majority parliamentarism in respect of ordinary legislation. 1995 (MCMXCV) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


The need to integrate and update the constitutional legislation was seen by this time as being urgent. For instance, while in most other European countries constitutional provisions are all contained within a single constitutional act, in Finland, they were fragmented and contained across several acts.


The process of constitutional reform began in the late 1990s, after Finland's accession to the European Union, partly because of the arguments which had emerged between the Parliament and the President when arrangements were being made for decision-making in European affairs, such as whether the President should participate in the meetings of the European Council together with the Prime Minister. See also 1990s, the band The 1990s decade refers to the years from 1990 to 1999, inclusive, sometimes informally including popular culture from the very late 1980s and from 2000 and beyond. ... The Eduskunta (in Finnish), or the Riksdag (in Swedish), is the Parliament of Finland. ...


In 1995, a working group of experts, the Constitution 2000 Working Group, was appointed to examine the need to consolidate and update the constitutional legislation. The Working Group proposed that all constitutional provisions be brought together into a single statute and concluded that the most important questions of constitutional law to be addressed in the reform were the reduction of the scope of constitutional regulation, the development of relations between the highest organs of government, the clarification of questions of power and responsibility in international affairs, and constitutional recognition of European Union membership. The Working Group also drew up a proposal for the structure of the new Constitution. 1995 (MCMXCV) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


After the Working Group had delivered its report, in 1996 the Government appointed the Constitution 2000 Commission to draft a proposal for a new, integrated Constitution to come into force on March 1, 2000. The Commission was instructed to draft its proposal for a new Constitution to replace the four existing constitutional laws in the form of a Government bill. The Commission completed its work on June 17, 1997, and during 1998, the bill was considered by the Constitutional Law Committee, which finally produced its unanimous report on the bill in January 1999. On February 12, Parliament gave its approval for the Committee's proposal for the new Constitution to be left in abeyance until after the parliamentary elections. The new Parliament elected in March 1999 approved the new Constitution in June that year and it was ratified by the President of the Republic. 1996 (MCMXCVI) was a leap year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar, and was designated the International Year for the Eradication of Poverty. ... 1998 (MCMXCVIII) was a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar, and was designated the International Year of the Ocean. ... 1999 (MCMXCIX) was a common year starting on Friday, and was designated the International Year of Older Persons by the United Nations. ...


Main provisions

Structure

The official text of the constitution consists of 131 Sections, divided into 13 Chapters, as follows:

  • Chapter 1. Fundamental provisions
  • Chapter 2. Basic rights and liberties
  • Chapter 3. Parliament and the Representatives
  • Chapter 4. Parliamentary activity
  • Chapter 5. The President of the Republic and the Government
  • Chapter 6. Legislation
  • Chapter 7. State finances
  • Chapter 8. International relations
  • Chapter 9. Administration of justice
  • Chapter 10. Supervision of legality
  • Chapter 11. Administration and self-government
  • Chapter 12. National defence
  • Chapter 13. Final provisions

The Eduskunta (in Finnish), or the Riksdag (in Swedish), is the Parliament of Finland. ... The President of Finland (Suomen Tasavallan Presidentti; Republiken Finlands President) is the Head of State of Finland. ... Under the Constitution of Finland, everyone is entitled to have their case heard by a court or an authority appropriately and without undue delay. ... The Finnish Defence Forces (Finnish: Puolustusvoimat) consist of 34,700 people in uniform (27,300 army, 3,000 navy, and 4,400 air force). ...

Fundamental provisions and basic rights

The opening chapter on fundamental provisions continues the affirmation of Finland's status as a sovereign Republic, the inviolability of human dignity and the rights of the individual, and the sovereignty of the Finnish people. It also affirms the principle of representative democracy and the position of Parliament as the highest organ of government, the separation of powers, the independence of the courts, and the principle of parliamentary government. The separation of powers (or trias politica, a term coined by French political thinker Montesquieu) is a model for the governance of the state. ...


Provisions on the Constitutional Organs

Main article: Politics of Finland Finland has a primarily parliamentary system, although the president also has some notable powers. ...


The Constitution establishes a government under a parliamentary system. It provides for a strong, directly elected President of the Republic, a Government comprising the Prime Minister and the Ministers who form the Council of State (Chapter 5) and the Parliament of Finland (Chapter 3). It also establishes an independent judiciary and two judicial systems: one general, and the other administrative. States currently utilizing parliamentary systems are denoted in red and orange—the former being constitutional monarchies and the latter being republics A parliamentary system, also known as parliamentarianism (and parliamentarism in U.S. English), is distinguished by the executive branch of government being dependent on the direct or indirect support... The Prime Minister (Finnish Pääministeri, Swedish: Statsminister) is the head of government in Finland. ... The Council of State (Finnish: Valtioneuvosto, Swedish: Statsrådet) is Finlands cabinet; it directs the Government of Finland. ... The Eduskunta (in Finnish), or the Riksdag (in Swedish), is the Parliament of Finland. ...


Parliament

One of the main goals of the constitutional reform process was to move Finland further in the direction of a parliamentary system of government. Accordingly, the new Constitution strengthens the position of Parliament as the highest organ of government and makes it easier for the legislature to carry out its work — this despite the fact that the new Constitution's provisions on the organization and procedures of Parliament contain no fundamental changes in terms of content, and the legal provisions on Parliament and Representatives remain largely unchanged.


Under the Parliament Act, Parliament has traditionally been entitled to receive from the Government and the relevant ministries whatever information it needs to carry out its functions, while the parliamentary committees have enjoyed a similar right to be provided with information and reports on matters within their purview. The new Constitution extends Parliament's right to be informed by giving individual Members of Parliament the right to receive information from authorities which they need to carry out their functions, provided the information concerned is not classed as secret and is not related to the preparation of the Government's budget proposal.


The new Constitution rationalizes and tightens up Parliament's legislative procedures in respect of the readings of a bill in plenary session following preparation in committee, reducing the current three readings to two.


Parliamentary supervision of the Government and of the overall administrative machinery of government is to be enhanced by transferring the National Audit Office, which monitors management of the public finances and compliance with the Government budget, from its current position under the Ministry of Finance to become an independent office working in conjunction with Parliament.


A new Procedure of Parliament, which supplements the provisions on Parliament contained in the Constitution, came into force at the same time as the new Constitution on March 1, 2000.


The President of the Republic and the Government

The main changes in the new Constitution relate to the constitutional regulation of decision-making by the The President of the Republic and the formation of the Government. Regulation of presidential decision-making procedures are specified more precisely, while the Government, responsible to Parliament and dependent on the confidence of Parliament, is given a greater role in presidential decision-making. The most notable change was the transfer of the final decision on the introduction and withdrawal of Government bills from the President of the Republic to the Government, this including bills in the area of foreign affairs. The President of Finland (Suomen Tasavallan Presidentti; Republiken Finlands President) is the Head of State of Finland. ...


In relation to the formation of the Government, the provisions of the new Constitution transfer the appointment of the Prime Minister from the President to Parliament. The new Constitution thus marked the end of the President's leading role in the formation of the Government. The President now only takes a prominent role when the parliamentary groups are unable to reach agreement on a suitable basis and programme for the Government, and on a suitable candidate for Prime Minister.


Criticisms

The judicial and constitutional system in Finland has been criticized for failing to separate powers. Laws cannot be ruled unconstitutional in the supreme courts of the judicial branch, but are previewed by the legislative branch. This structure is unusual among democratic nations. The Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Sweden are the only other such countries which lack a constitutional court - the UK's constitution is uncodified, and the Netherlands has, in the view of many, separated powers. The separation of powers (or trias politica, a term coined by French political thinker Montesquieu) is a model for the governance of the state. ... The supreme court in some countries, provinces, and states, functions as a court of last resort whose rulings cannot be challenged. ... Democracy is, literally, rule by the people (from the Greek demos, people, and kratos, rule). The methods by which this rule is exercised, and indeed the composition of the people are central to various definitions of democracy, but the general principle is that of majority rule. ...


The new Constitution does expressly direct the courts to give precedence to the Constitution if an evident conflict arises in some particular case; the courts may not, however, strike down acts or pronounce on their constitutionality. The old Constitution also directed the supreme courts to request, if needed, the explication or amendment of an act or decree, but this provision has been removed and the responsibility for maintaining the constitutionality of the laws now rests completely with the Parliament.


External links

  • Finnish constitution in English (PDF)

  Results from FactBites:
 
Constitution of Finland - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1380 words)
The Constitution of Finland (in Finnish, Suomen perustuslaki, or in Swedish, Finlands grundlag) is the supreme source of national law of Finland.
Finland's current constitutional laws are: the Constitution Act of Finland (2000); the Parliament Act (1995); the Procedure of Parliament (2000) and the Act on the High Court of Impeachment (1995).
The main changes in the new Constitution relate to the constitutional regulation of decision-making by the The President of the Republic and the formation of the Government.
President of Finland - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (2666 words)
Under the Constitution of Finland, executive power is vested in the President and the government, with the President possessing extensive powers.
Under the Constitution of Finland, executive power is vested in the President and the Council of State, which must enjoy the confidence of Parliament.
From the date of Finland's independence on December 6, 1917 until the end of the Finnish Civil War in May 1918, Per Evind Svinhufvud was the head of state of White Finland in his capacity as Chairman of the Senate.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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