Forming a new government

The process of forming a new government begins after the organising of Parliament and the State Opening of Parliament. After the election, a representative of the parliamentary group that won the most seats in Parliament invites the representatives of the other groups to a meeting to agree on a leader for the preliminary discussions on the formation of a new government.

The leader of the preliminary discussions presents a series of questions to the parliamentary groups to ascertain the parties’ views on key issues for the formation of the new government. Based on the responses and further discussions, the leader decides which groups will move on to the government formation talks.

In the government formation talks, which in recent decades have been held at the House of the Estates, groups consisting of representatives of the parties negotiate on common objectives for the new government. The talks also involve consultations with experts and representatives of interest groups. During the process, an individual party may withdraw from the talks and the leader may invite new groups of party representatives to the negotiating table. The leader of the talks may also change, meaning that the government will be formed on a new basis.

Government Programme and appointing the Government

In the government formation talks, the parties agree on the Government Programme, which is a political action plan approved by the parties that sets out the objectives and most important tasks for the government term. The parties also agree on the number of ministers and on the distribution of ministerial portfolios and division of duties among the parties.

The President of the Republic informs Parliament of the nominee for the Prime Minister to be put forward for election by Parliament. The nominee is elected Prime Minister if their election is supported by more than half the votes cast in an open vote in Parliament.

The ministers are appointed by the President's Open Letter. The Open Letter declares who is appointed Prime Minister and lists the names and ministerial portfolios of the new ministers. The ministers must be Finnish citizens who are known to be honest and competent.

The President formally appoints the Prime Minister and other government ministers at a presidential session. This is also when the outgoing government officially resigns.

Government's constitutive session and seating plan

Promptly after its appointment, the new Government will convene for a constitutive session. At the start of the session, the ministers take an oath or affirmation of office and a judicial oath, if they have not yet done so. The session will decide on the portfolios of ministers working in the same ministry, the composition of statutory ministerial committees and the deputising arrangements for the Prime Minister and other ministers.

Ministers will have a seating plan for the Government’s plenary sessions and presidential sessions based on order of seniority. The most senior minister is the Prime Minister, followed by the minister appointed by the Government as the minister deputising for the Prime Minister. Next in line are those ministers who have previously held ministerial office, with their seniority determined by number of days in office. The next criteria affecting seniority order include previous service as a Member of the European Parliament and as a member of the Parliament of Finland, and the positions ministers have previously held in Parliament and in their respective parties.

Enjoying confidence of Parliament and resigning

The Government Programme is given as a statement to Parliament. Parliament discusses the matter and then takes a vote on confidence in the Government.

The President of the Republic accepts upon request the resignation of the Government or a minister. If the entire Government or an individual minister no longer enjoys the confidence of Parliament, the President accepts the resignation even if no formal request is made. The President may also accept the resignation of a minister for other reasons at the proposal of the Prime Minister.

Following parliamentary elections, the outgoing government resigns and continues as a caretaker government until the new government is appointed.