Constitution of Finland

For the constitution of the Grand Duchy of Finland, see Swedish Constitution of 1772.

The Constitution of Finland (Finnish: Suomen perustuslaki or Swedish: Finlands grundlag) is the supreme source of national law of Finland.[1] 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, and individuals in general. The original Constitution Act was enacted in 1919, soon after Finland declared its independence in 1917. The current draft of the Constitution came into force on 1 March 2000.

Historical background and reform

Finland's current constitutional provisions are enshrined in a single statute: the Constitution of Finland (731/1999).

Before the enshrinement, the Finnish constitutional provisions were divided between four separate statutes, which all had a constitutional status; the Constitution Act of 1919 (Finnish: Suomen hallitusmuoto), Parliament Act of 1928 (Finnish: valtiopäiväjärjestys), the Ministerial Responsibility Act of 1922 (Finnish: laki eduskunnan oikeudesta tarkastaa valtioneuvoston jäsenten ja oikeuskanslerin sekä eduskunnan oikeusasiamiehen virkatointen lainmukaisuutta, short title ministerivastuulaki) and the Act on the High Court of Impeachment of 1922 (Finnish: laki valtakunnanoikeudesta). All these statutes were merged into a single constitution and repealed with the passage thereof.[2]:§131

The fundamental principles of the Constitution Act of 1919 and the Parliament Act of 1906, amended in 1928, 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 from 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: instead of amending or changing the Constitution, an act may be passed as an ad hoc exception to it. Such an exceptive law does not become part of the Constitution and it may be repealed like an ordinary act. Exceptive laws were formerly much used, even to the point of threatening to undermine respect for Constitutional provisions. Today, their use is limited.

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 referendums 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.

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 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. The 1991 reform also amended the provisions in the Constitution Act and the Parliament Act relating to State finances.

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 abolished, marking the final transition to majority parliamentarism in respect to ordinary legislation.

In the 1990s, the need to integrate and update the constitutional legislation was seen as 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.

In 1995, a working group of experts, called 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.

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.

Main provisions

Structure

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

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

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 provisions for constitutional rights closely mirror the European convention on human rights, including the educational, social and economic rights in addition to political liberties. The international human rights obligations of Finland are set as the highest legal norm of the law, even above the constitution.

Provisions on the Constitutional Organs

The Constitution establishes a government under a semi-presidential system. It provides for a strong, directly elected President of the Republic, a Government comprising the Prime Minister and the Ministers who form the Government (Chapter 5) the Parliament of Finland (Chapter 3). It also establishes an independent judiciary and two judicial systems: one general, and the other administrative.

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 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.

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.

Delegation

§ 80 provides that an issue can be governed by a Decree only if this re-delegation is explicitly allowed in an Act. However, the principles governing the rights and obligations of private individuals and the other matters that under the Constitution are of a legislative nature shall be governed by Acts. § 80, in essence, sets up the boundaries on how the Parliament may give up its legislative power.

The Constitution, indeed, delegates several issues to be governed by ordinary Acts. These laws are not considered constitutional laws, although they concern constitutional rights. An example is the universal obligation to participate in national defence which is provided in § 127 in two sentences, both of which delegate to regular legislation: Every Finnish citizen is obligated to participate or assist in national defence, as provided by an Act. Provisions on the right to exemption, on grounds of conscience, from participation in military national defence are laid down by an Act.

Criticisms

The constitutional system in Finland has been criticized for missing any de facto mechanism of independent judicial review, as well as failing to adequately guarantee separation of powers. The constitutionality of laws is not determined by the judiciary, but it is, instead, reviewed by the Parliament's own Constitional Law Committee that consists of MPs. This structure is, however, not unusual among democratic nations. The Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland are other such countries where judicial review is performed by the legislature itself.

The current Constitution expressly directs the courts to give precedence to the provisions of the Constitution if they are in an evident conflict with provisions of ordinary laws in some particular case; the courts may not, however, strike down Acts or pronounce on their constitutionality. The old constitutional acts also directed the Supreme Court and the Supreme Administrative Court to request, if needed, the explication or amendment of an Act or Decree, but this provision has been repealed and the responsibility for maintaining the constitutionality of the laws now rests completely with the Parliament.

See also

References

  1. ^ The Constitution of Finland (translation issued by the Ministry of Justice)
  2. ^ Suomen perustuslaki. Finlex database. Retrieved 2017-03-31. (in Finnish)

External links

Capital punishment in Finland

Capital punishment in Finland (Finnish: kuolemanrangaistus) has been abolished de jure.As of 1823 in the Grand Duchy of Finland, death sentences were commuted to transportation to Siberia or other lesser sentences. The last person to be executed in peacetime was Tahvo Putkonen, on 8 July 1825. The capital punishment was de facto abolished during the rest of the Czarist regime 1825–1917 in Finland.

During and right after the Finnish Civil War of 1918 there were many executions, most done without due process. Approximately 1,400–1,650 Whites and 7,000–10,000 Reds were executed by the opposing side. The executions were invariably carried out by firing squad. The Shoot on the Spot Declaration allowed White commanders to summarily execute prisoners, something which was of questionable legality, but this issue became moot after general amnesties.

During the Winter War and Continuation War approximately 550 death sentences were carried out. 455 (some ninety percent) of those executed were Soviet infiltrators, spies and saboteurs. The officer's authority to execute soldiers refusing to obey commands or fleeing from combat was exercised only in 13 cases. The most famous case is the execution of conscientious objector Arndt Pekurinen in autumn 1941, who was also the penultimate Finn ever to be executed for civilian crimes (conscientious objection during wartime was considered high treason). As he declined taking a rifle and going to the front line, he was sentenced to death without trial for disobedience by his commanding officer, Captain Valkonen. Nobody in his battalion volunteered for the firing squad, and Captain Valkonen had to use threat of punishment to order a soldier, Corporal Asikainen, to shoot him. Pekurinen's death was widely considered miscarriage of justice by his service mates.

The last Finn to be executed for civilian crimes was Toivo "Kirves" (Axe) Koljonen, who killed a family of six with an axe in 1942. He was shot by a military police firing squad along with Soviet spies sentenced to death for espionage in 1943. The last woman executed in Finland was Martta Koskinen, shot for espionage and high treason in 1943. The last Finn to be executed for any crimes was Private Olavi Laiho, who was shot for desertion, high treason and espionage in Oulu, 2 September 1944. One day later a group of three Soviet infiltrators were shot, as the last persons to be executed in Finland.

In independent Finland, capital punishment for crimes committed in peacetime was abolished by law in 1949, and in 1972 it was abolished entirely. In addition, the current Constitution of Finland, adopted in 2000, —specifically Chapter 2, Section 7— prohibits capital punishment: Jokaisella on oikeus elämään sekä henkilökohtaiseen vapauteen, koskemattomuuteen ja turvallisuuteen. Ketään ei saa tuomita kuolemaan, kiduttaa eikä muutoinkaan kohdella ihmisarvoa loukkaavasti. (in English: Everyone has the right to life, personal liberty, integrity and security. No one shall be sentenced to death, tortured or otherwise treated in a manner violating human dignity.)

In the 19th century and before, as in the other Nordic countries, beheading by axe was the most common method of execution. In the 20th century, firing squads were used. The official beheading axe of Finland is today on display at Museum of Crime, Vantaa.

Some notable lasts:

Last person executed in peacetime in Finland: Tahvo Putkonen, 1825, beheaded with axe for murder

Last person hanged in Finland: Taavetti Lukkarinen, 1916, at Oulu. He was hanged for high treason under Czarist Russian martial law. Instead of gallows, he was hanged in a pine tree. The tree is today protected as a memorial.

Last person executed for a civilian crime in Finland: Toivo Koljonen, 1943, by firing squad for six murders.

Last woman executed in Finland: Martta Koskinen, 1943, by firing squad for espionage and high treason.

Last Finn executed: Private Olavi Laiho, 2 September 1944, by firing squad for desertion, espionage and high treason.

Last person executed in Finland: a group of three Soviet infiltrators, 3 September 1944, by firing squad for espionage.

Chancellor of Justice

The Chancellor of Justice is a government official found in some northern European countries, broadly responsible for supervising the lawfulness of government actions.

Conscription in Finland

Conscription in Finland is part of a general compulsion for national military service for all adult males (Finnish: maanpuolustusvelvollisuus; Swedish: totalförsvarsplikt) defined in the 127§ of the Constitution of Finland.

Conscription can take the form of military or of civilian service. According to Finnish Defence Forces 2011 data slightly under 80% of Finnish males turned 30 had entered and finished the military service. The number of female volunteers to annually enter armed service had stabilised at approximately 300. The service period is 165 days, 255 days, or 347 days for the rank and file conscripts and 347 days for conscripts trained as NCOs or reserve officers. The length of civilian service is always twelve months. Those electing to serve unarmed in duties where unarmed service is possible serve either nine or twelve months, depending on their training.Any Finnish citizen who refuses to perform both military and civilian service faces a penalty of 173 days in prison, minus any served days. Such sentences are usually served fully in prison, with no parole. Jehovah's Witnesses are exempted in that they may be granted a deferment of service for 3 years upon presentation of a certificate from their congregation's minister showing they are an active member of that religious community. Providing they are still an active member 3 years later, there is nothing to stop them getting a further certificate and deferment. The inhabitants of the demilitarized Åland Islands are exempt from military service. By the Conscription Act of 1951, they are, however, required to serve a time at a local institution, like the coast guard. However, until such service has been arranged, they are freed from service obligation. The non-military service of Åland islands has not been arranged since the introduction of the act, and there are no plans to institute it. The inhabitants of Åland islands can also volunteer for military service on the mainland. As of 1995, women are permitted to serve on a voluntary basis and pursue careers in the military after their initial voluntary military service.

The military service takes place in Finnish Defence Forces or in the Finnish Border Guard. All services of the Finnish Defence Forces train conscripts. However, the Border Guard trains conscripts only in land-based units, not in coast guard detachments or in the Border Guard Air Wing. Civilian service may take place in the Civilian Service Center in Lapinjärvi or in an accepted non-profit organization of educational, social or medical nature.

Constitution of Åland

Åland is a part of Finland and is governed by the Constitution of Finland. The Constitution does mention Åland (§ 25, 58, 75, 120) but immediately refers to the Autonomy Act of Åland. This is an ordinary act. However, its provisions affect constitutional rights.

The Autonomy Act of Åland defines the following:

The Finnish government is represented by the Provincial Governor.

"Home region right" (Swedish: hembygdsrätt), which includes the right to participate in elections, own property, or operate a business on the islands, and the exemption from Finnish conscription, is defined. The conditions defined are five years of residency, fluency in Swedish, and existing Finnish citizenship.

The provincial parliament and provincial government, and their authority.

A list is provided on which issues the provincial parliament can legislate.

A procedure is defined where the Finnish Ministry of Justice reviews the provincial acts and submits them to the president. If disputed, the Supreme Court is consulted, and the President is authorized to strike down the provincial act, completely or partially, should it exceed the provincial parliament's authority or concern national security.

It is defined that the provincial government administrates the issues that the provincial parliament can legislate. (§ 23)

The province's administrative court is defined as a court of first instance regarding issues within the provincial parliament's legislative power, and the Supreme Administrative Court of Finland is defined as the appeals court.

Authority of the Finnish central government (5 L).

Language issues (6 L)

The official language is defined as Swedish, in contrast to the mainland, where both Finnish and Swedish are defined as official languages of the state.

Finnish citizens have the right to speak Finnish in matters directly concerning them.

Åland residents are exempt from Finnish language tests in mainland schools.

Finances of the province (7 L)

Provincial Governor (8 L)

International treaties (9 L) - the provincial parliament can choose not to ratify them; for example, Åland chose not to enter the EU VAT zone.

Miscellaneous provisions (10 L)

Diet of Porvoo

The Diet of Porvoo (Finnish Porvoon maapäivät, or unhistorically Porvoon valtiopäivät; Swedish Borgå landtdag), was the summoned legislative assembly to establish the Grand Principality of Finland in 1809 and the heir of the powers of the Swedish Riksdag of the Estates. The session of the Diet lasted from March to July 1809.

During the Finnish War between Sweden and Russia, the four Estates of Russian occupied Finland (Nobility, Clergy, Burghers and Peasants) were assembled at Porvoo (Borgå) by Tsar Alexander I, the new Grand Prince of Finland, between 25 March and 19 July 1809. The central event at Porvoo was the sovereign pledge and the oaths of the Estates in Porvoo Cathedral on 29 March. Each of the Estates swore their oaths of allegiance, committing themselves to accepting the Emperor as Grand Prince of Finland as the true authority, and to keeping the constitution and the form of government unchanged. Alexander I subsequently promised to govern Finland in accordance with its laws and let the Finnish keep their religion and rights. This was thought to essentially mean that the emperor confirmed the Swedish Instrument of Government from 1772 as the constitution of Finland, although it was also interpreted to mean respecting the existing codes and statutes.The diet had required that it would be convened again after the Finnish War, which separated Finland from Sweden, had been concluded. On 17 September the same year, the conflict was settled by the Treaty of Fredrikshamn but it would be another five decades until the Finnish Estates would be called again.

During the rise of Finnish nationalism later in the 19th century, it was claimed that the Diet implied that a Treaty between States had been signed at the Diet between Finland and Russia. According to Emeritus Professor Jussila of Helsinki University, it is true that Alexander said that Finland had been raised to the status of a nation among nations, but the claim of a Treaty between equals was simply a device invented for the political realities of the struggle for independence.

Elections in Finland

There are four types of elections in Finland. Each Finnish citizen at least 18 years of age has the right to vote in each of the elections, which decide the following: the president , the parliament, the MEPs , and the municipal and city councils.

Finland has a presidential election every six years, in which a President of Finland is elected in two rounds on the basis of a direct popular vote.

Parliamentary elections are held every four years with a system of proportional representation in multiple seat constituencies. Finnish parliamentary elections use the d'Hondt method. Finland has a multi-party system wherein it is uncommon for a single party to achieve a majority in eduskunta; thus most Finnish governments consist of coalitions.

European Parliament elections are held every five years. Finland has 13 seats in the European Parliament.

Municipal elections are held every four years. Municipal elections are held separately in the Municipalities of Åland at the same time as the election of the Parliament of Åland. A new type of election, maakuntavaalit, was proposed by the Sipilä Cabinet in which determines the councils of each of the country's 18 provinces. The first maakuntavaalit may possibly be held in 2019.

Finland

Finland (; Finnish: Suomi [suo̯mi] (listen); Swedish: Finland [ˈfɪnland] (listen)), officially the Republic of Finland (Finnish: Suomen tasavalta, Swedish: Republiken Finland (listen to all)) is a country in Northern Europe bordering the Baltic Sea, Gulf of Bothnia, and Gulf of Finland, between Norway to the north, Sweden to the northwest, and Russia to the east. Finland is a Nordic country and is situated in the geographical region of Fennoscandia. The capital and largest city is Helsinki. Other major cities are Espoo, Vantaa, Tampere, Oulu and Turku.

Finland's population is 5.52 million (2018), and the majority of the population is concentrated in the southern region. 88.7% of the population is Finnish and speaks Finnish, a Uralic language unrelated to the Scandinavian languages; next come the Finland-Swedes (5.3%). Finland is the eighth-largest country in Europe and the most sparsely populated country in the European Union. The sovereign state is a parliamentary republic with a central government based in the capital city of Helsinki, local governments in 311 municipalities, and one autonomous region, the Åland Islands. Over 1.4 million people live in the Greater Helsinki metropolitan area, which produces one third of the country's GDP.

Finland was inhabited when the last ice age ended, approximately 9000 BCE. The first settlers left behind artefacts that present characteristics shared with those found in Estonia, Russia, and Norway. The earliest people were hunter-gatherers, using stone tools. The first pottery appeared in 5200 BCE, when the Comb Ceramic culture was introduced. The arrival of the Corded Ware culture in southern coastal Finland between 3000 and 2500 BCE may have coincided with the start of agriculture. The Bronze Age and Iron Age were characterised by extensive contacts with other cultures in the Fennoscandian and Baltic regions and the sedentary farming inhabitation increased towards the end of Iron Age. At the time Finland had three main cultural areas – Southwest Finland, Tavastia and Karelia – as reflected in contemporary jewellery.From the late 13th century, Finland gradually became an integral part of Sweden through the Northern Crusades and the Swedish part-colonisation of coastal Finland, a legacy reflected in the prevalence of the Swedish language and its official status. In 1809, Finland was incorporated into the Russian Empire as the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland. In 1906, Finland became the first European state to grant all adult citizens the right to vote, and the first in the world to give all adult citizens the right to run for public office.Following the 1917 Russian Revolution, Finland declared itself independent. In 1918, the fledgling state was divided by civil war, with the Bolshevik-leaning Red Guard supported by the equally new Soviet Russia, fighting the White Guard, supported by the German Empire. After a brief attempt to establish a kingdom, the country became a republic. During World War II, the Soviet Union sought repeatedly to occupy Finland, with Finland losing parts of Karelia, Salla, Kuusamo, Petsamo and some islands, but retaining their independence.

Finland joined the United Nations in 1955 and established an official policy of neutrality. The Finno-Soviet Treaty of 1948 gave the Soviet Union some leverage in Finnish domestic politics during the Cold War era. Finland joined the OECD in 1969, the NATO Partnership for Peace in 1994, the European Union in 1995, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in 1997, and finally the Eurozone at its inception, in 1999.

Finland was a relative latecomer to industrialisation, remaining a largely agrarian country until the 1950s. After World War II, the Soviet Union demanded war reparations from Finland not only in money but also in material, such as ships and machinery. This forced Finland to industrialise. It rapidly developed an advanced economy while building an extensive welfare state based on the Nordic model, resulting in widespread prosperity and one of the highest per capita incomes in the world. Finland is a top performer in numerous metrics of national performance, including education, economic competitiveness, civil liberties, quality of life, and human development. In 2015, Finland was ranked first in the World Human Capital and the Press Freedom Index and as the most stable country in the world during 2011–2016 in the Fragile States Index, and second in the Global Gender Gap Report. A large majority of Finns are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and freedom of religion is guaranteed under the Finnish Constitution.

Finnish Government

The Finnish government (Finnish: Suomen valtioneuvosto; Swedish: Finlands statsrådet; lit. Finland's council of state) is the executive branch and cabinet of Finland, which directs the politics of Finland and is the main source of legislation proposed to the Parliament. In the incumbent Sipilä Cabinet, the government comprises 17 ministers leading 12 ministries under collective ministerial responsibility and representing Finland in the Council of the European Union.

Majority coalition governments have become the foundation of the Finnish government; apart from a few historical exceptions, a government is usually assembled by the representatives of two major parties and a number of smaller parties.

Judicial system 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. This is achieved through the judicial system of Finland.

The Finnish judicial system is mostly organized under the Ministry of Justice, and consists of

the independent courts of law and administrative courts

the prosecution service

the enforcement authorities, who see to the enforcement of judgments

the prison service and the probation service, who see to the enforcement of custodial sentences, and

the Bar Association and the other avenues of legal aid.

Kaarlo Juho Ståhlberg

Kaarlo Juho Ståhlberg (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈstoːlbærj], Finnish: [ˈstoːlberi]; 28 January 1865 – 22 September 1952) was a Finnish jurist and academic, who played a central role in the drafting of the Constitution of Finland in 1919. He was the first President of Finland (1919–1925) and a liberal nationalist.

Lapland (Finland)

Lapland (Finnish: Lappi; Northern Sami: Sápmi; Swedish: Lappland, Latin: Lapponia, Russian: Лапландия, Laplandiya), also referred to as Lappi Province, is the largest and northernmost region of Finland. The municipalities in the region cooperate in a Regional Council. Lapland borders the region of North Ostrobothnia in the south. It also borders the Gulf of Bothnia, Norrbotten County in Sweden, Finnmark County and Troms County in Norway, and Murmansk Oblast and the Republic of Karelia in Russia. Lapland's cold and wintry climate, coupled with the relative abundance of conifer trees such as pines and spruces means that it has become associated with Christmas in some countries, most notably the United Kingdom, and holidays to Lapland are common towards the end of the year. Rovaniemi Airport is the third busiest airport in Finland.

The region has been associated with Father Christmas (who is not actually the same as Santa Claus while sharing many characteristics) since 1927, when proposed by Finnish radio host Markus Rautio.

Law of Finland

The law of Finland is based on the civil law tradition, consisting mostly of statutory law promulgated by the Parliament of Finland. The constitution of Finland, originally approved in 1919 and rewritten in 2000, has supreme authority and sets the most important procedures for enacting and applying legislation. As in civil law systems in general, judicial decisions are not generally authoritative and there is little judge-made law. Supreme Court decisions can be cited, but they are not actually binding.

As a member of the European Union, European Union law is in force in Finland, and Finland implements EU directives in its national legislation. The Court of Justice of the European Union is the ultimate authority in matters in the competence of the European Union.

As in Sweden, administrative law is interpreted by a separate administrative court system. Besides law proper i.e. acts of parliament (laki), permanent government regulations (asetus) form an important body of law. They can clarify and guide implementation, but not contradict an act.

List of Finland-related topics

This is a collection of articles relating to Finland, a country in Northern Europe.

List of Presidents of Finland

The President of Finland is Finland's head of state. Under the Constitution of Finland, executive power is vested in the president and the government, with the president possessing limited powers. Since 1991 no president may be elected for more than two consecutive terms. Presidents used to be elected indirectly, by an electoral college or by Parliament, but since 1994 the president has been elected directly by the people for a term of six years. The president must be a native-born Finnish citizen. The office was established by the Constitution Act of 1919. The current office-holder is Sauli Niinistö.

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Finland)

The Minister for Foreign Affairs (Finnish: ulkoministeri, Swedish: utrikesminister) handles the Finnish Government's foreign policy and relations, and is in charge of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The Minister for Foreign Trade and Development is also associated with this ministry.

The current Minister for Foreign Affairs is Timo Soini of Blue Reform.

Parliament of Finland

The Parliament of Finland (Finnish: Suomen eduskunta, Swedish: Finlands riksdag) is the unicameral supreme legislature of Finland, founded on 9 May 1906. In accordance with the Constitution of Finland, sovereignty belongs to the people, and that power is vested in the Parliament. The Parliament consists of 200 members, 199 of whom are elected every four years from 13 multi-member districts electing 7-22 MPs using the proportional d'Hondt method. In addition, there is one member from Åland.

Legislation may be initiated by either the Government or one of the members of Parliament. The Parliament passes legislation, decides on the state budget, approves international treaties, and supervises the activities of the government. It may bring about the resignation of the Finnish Government, override presidential vetoes, and alter the constitution. To make changes to the constitution, amendments must be approved by two successive parliaments, with an election cycle in between, or passed as an emergency law with a 166/200 majority. Most MPs work in parliamentary groups which correspond with the political parties. As of June 2018, the Parliament comprises ten parliamentary groups and one independent MP. Since the establishment of the Parliament in 1905, the parliamentary majority has been held once by a single party – the Social Democrats in the 1916 election. Thus, for the Government to gain a majority in the Parliament, coalition governments are favored. These are generally formed by at least two of the three historically major parties: the Social Democrats, Centre, and National Coalition. Ministers are often but not necessarily MPs. The Parliament meets in the Parliament House (Finnish: Eduskuntatalo, Swedish: Riksdagshuset), which is located in central Helsinki.

The most recent parliamentary election took place on April 19, 2015. The Centre Party, the Finns Party, and the National Coalition Party cooperated to form the Sipilä Cabinet, a centre-right coalition government. Following the split of the Finns Party in June 2017, Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (kesk.) terminated the government's co-operation with the Finns Party and proposed a new coalition consisting of three groups: the intact Centre and National Coalition parties, as well as Blue Reform, a new party consisting solely of former members of the Finns Party.

Politics of Finland

The politics of Finland take place within the framework of a parliamentary representative democracy. Finland is a republic whose head of state is President Sauli Niinistö, who leads the nation's foreign policy and is the supreme commander of the Finnish Defence Forces. Finland's head of government is the Prime Minister, who leads the nation's executive branch, called the Finnish Government. Legislative power is vested in the Parliament of Finland (Finnish: Suomen eduskunta, Swedish: Finlands riksdag), and the Government has limited rights to amend or extend legislation. Because the Constitution of Finland vests power to both the President and Government, the President has veto power over parliamentary decisions, although this power can be overruled by a majority vote in the Parliament.The judiciary is independent of the executive and legislative branches. The judiciary consists of two systems: regular courts and administrative courts. The judiciary's two systems are headed by the Supreme Court and the Supreme Administrative Court, respectively. Administrative courts process cases in which official decisions are contested. There is no constitutional court in Finland – the constitutionality of a law can be contested only as applied to an individual court case.

The citizens of Finland enjoy many individual and political freedoms, and suffrage is universal at age 18; Finnish women became the first in the world to have unrestricted rights both to vote and to run for public office.

The country's population is ethnically homogeneous with no sizable immigrant population. Few tensions exist between the Finnish-speaking majority and the Swedish-speaking minority, although in certain circles there is an unending debate about the status of the Swedish language.Finland's labor agreements are based on collective bargaining. Bargaining is highly centralized and often the government participates to coordinate fiscal policy. Finland has universal validity of collective labour agreements and often, but not always, the trade unions, employers, and the Government reach a national income policy agreement. Significant Finnish trade unions include SAK, STTK, AKAVA, and EK.The Economist Intelligence Unit has rated Finland a full democracy.

President of Finland

The President of the Republic of Finland (Finnish: Suomen tasavallan presidentti, Swedish: Republiken Finlands president) is the head of state of Finland. Under the Constitution of Finland, executive power is vested in the President and the Finnish Government, with the former possessing only residual powers. The President is directly elected by universal suffrage for a term of six years. Since 1991, no President may be elected for more than two consecutive terms. The President must be a Finnish citizen by birth. The Presidential office was established in the Constitution Act of 1919. Since March 1, 2012, the President of Finland has been Sauli Niinistö. In May 2017, Niinistö announced that he would seek re-election in the 2018 presidential election, running as an independent candidate. NCP and the Christian Democrat Party supported his candidacy. He won re-election in the first round on 28 January 2018 with 62.7% of the vote and his second term began on 1 February 2018.Finland has, for most of its independence, had a semi-presidential system in which the president had much authority and power over both foreign and domestic policy (the best examples of this are from the tenure of President Urho Kekkonen), but in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, the powers of the President have been subject to decrease. In constitution amendments, which came into effect in the years 1991, 2000, and 2012, the President's powers have seen reduction. However, the President still leads the nation's foreign politics in conjunction with the Government, and is the chief-in-command of the Finnish Defence Forces.

Prime Minister of Finland

The Prime Minister of Finland (Finnish: Suomen pääministeri, Swedish: Finlands statsminister) is the head of the Finnish Government. The prime minister is Finland's head of government and is formally appointed by the President. Finland's first prime minister was Pehr Evind Svinhufvud, who was appointed to the post on 27 November 1917.

Finland's incumbent prime minister is Juha Sipilä of the Centre Party.

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