Amendments to the Constitution enter into force in the beginning of March
Amendments to the Constitution of Finland enter into force on 1 March 2012. The key amendments relate to the clarification of the division of powers between the highest state organs, i.e. between the President of the Republic and the Government, which shall have the confidence of the Parliament. Provisions on Finland's membership in the EU and on the citizens' initiative have been added to the Constitution.
A provision according to which the Prime Minister represents Finland in activities of the European Union requiring the participation of the highest level of State has been added to the section concerning the duties of the Prime Minister.
The President will nevertheless retain the status as a significant state organ and the head of the state. No amendments have been made to the provision concerning the direction of foreign policy: Finlands foreign policy is directed by the President of the Republic, in cooperation with the Government.
If there is a disagreement between the President and the Government in the decision-making, the matter will be decided in accordance with the position adopted by the Parliament. The decision on Finlands participation in international military crisis management is, however, made in accordance with the provisions of the Act on Military Crisis Management i.e. by the President of the Republic on the basis of a proposal put forward by the Government, after the President has heard the Parliament.
Government proposals are in future submitted to the Parliament by the Government instead of the President. The Government makes also decisions on completing the proposals and withdrawing them as well as on submitting reports on governmental activities to the Parliament. The President's role as the organ submitting the government proposals has thus far been mainly formal, as the President has not in any case been capable of preventing the submission of a government proposal to the Parliament in the form that the Government has proposed. Approving bills remains, however, a duty of the President.
An express mention of Finland's membership in the EU has now been added to the Constitution. A provision on the right of Finnish citizens and citizens of the European Union, resident in Finland, to vote in the European Parliamentary elections has also been added to the Constitution.
Citizens' participatory rights are completed with a new system for citizens' initiatives. According to the new provision in the Constitution, at least fifty thousand Finnish citizens entitled to vote have the right to submit an initiative for the enactment of an Act to the Parliament.
Director, Legislative Affairs Sami Manninen, tel 09 1606 7609, e-mail: email@example.com