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Politics of Finland

Finland has a primarily parliamentary system, although the president also has some notable powers. The main executive power lies in the cabinet headed by the prime minister. Matters concerning national security are divided between the president and the cabinet. The cabinet shares responsibility of foreign affairs with the president. Before the constitutional rewrite, which was completed in 2000, the president enjoyed more power.

Finns enjoy individual and political freedoms, and suffrage is universal at 18. 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.

Table of contents
1 Constitution
2 President
3 Council of State
4 Parliament
5 Elections
6 Judicial system
7 Administrative divisions
8 See also
9 External links


Main article: Constitution of Finland

The Constitution was rewritten per March 1, 2000 after first being adopted in July 17 1919). The civil law system is based on Swedish law. Supreme Court or Korkein Oikeus, may request legislation interpreting or modifying laws, judges are appointed by the president.


Main article: President of Finland

Elected for a 6-year term, the president:

Council of State

Main article:
Government of Finland

The Council of State is made up of the prime minister and ministers for the various departments of the central government as well as an ex-officio member, the Chancellor of Justice. Ministers are not obliged to be members of the Eduskunta and need not be formally identified with any political party.

The president, after hearing the parliament, nominates a prime minister candidate for the parliament to approve in a vote. The prime minister chooses the rest of the cabinet, which is formally appointed by the president.


Main article: Parliament of Finland

Constitutionally, the 200-member unicameral Eduskunta, the Parliament of Finland, is the supreme authority in Finland. It may alter the constitution, bring about the resignation of the Council of State, and override presidential vetoes; its acts are not subject to judicial review. Legislation may be initiated by the Council of State, or one of the Eduskunta members.

The Eduskunta is elected on the basis of proportional representation. All persons 18 or older, except military personnel on active duty and a few high judicial officials, are eligible for election. The regular parliamentary term is four years; however, the president may dissolve the Eduskunta and order new elections at the request of the prime minister and after consulting the speaker of parliament.


Main article: Elections in Finland

Finland's proportional representation system encourages a multitude of political parties and has resulted in many coalition-cabinets.

In the parliamentary elections of 16 March 2003, there were two dominating parties: the Center Party (KESK) got 55 seats, and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) got 53 seats, in the 200-seat Eduskunta. A new cabinet was formed by Center and Social Democrats together with the Swedish People's Party.

Judicial system

Main article: Judicial system of Finland

The judicial system is divided between courts with regular civil and criminal jurisdiction and special courts with responsibility for litigation between the public and the administrative organs of the state. Finnish law is codified. Although there is no writ of habeas corpus or bail, the maximum period of pre-trial detention has been reduced to four days. The Finnish court system consists of local courts, regional appellate courts, and a Supreme Court.

Administrative divisions

Main article: Provinces of Finland

Finland has six provinces. Below the provincial level, they are divided into cities, townships, and communes administered by municipal and communal councils elected by proportional representation once every four years. At the provincial level, the 5 mainland provinces are administered by provincial boards composed of civil servants, each headed by a presidentially appointed governor. The boards are responsible to the Ministry of the Interior and play a supervisory and coordinating role within the provinces.

The island province of Åland is located near the 60th parallel between Sweden and Finland. It enjoys local autonomy by virtue of an international convention of 1921, implemented most recently by the Act on Åland Self-Government of 1951. The islands are further distinguished by the fact that they are entirely Swedish-speaking. Government is vested in the provincial council, which consists of 30 delegates elected directly by Åland's citizens.

See also

External links