The Government and Parliament

The relationship between the Government and Parliament is an integral part of parliamentary democracy. Parliament oversees the Government's work and ensures that the Government complies with the law and acts in the interests of citizens. The Government is accountable to Parliament and thus to the people of Finland. It must cooperate with Parliament in order to receive support for the implementation of its policies.

The means of parliamentary oversight include interpellations and written and oral questions. The Government also monitors its own activities with the help of reports, statements and Prime Minister's announcements, which the Government submits to Parliament. Other bodies overseeing the Government's actions include the Parliamentary Audit Committee, the Office of the Chancellor of Justice, the National Audit Office and the Parliamentary Ombudsman.

Parliament enacts legislation

Parliament's most important task is to enact legislation. For Parliament to enact a new piece of legislation or amend an old one, it needs a government legislative proposal or a Member of Parliament's legislative motion. Parliament must also consider a legislative motion submitted by citizens if at least 50,000 citizens support it.

Most acts begin as government legislative proposals which contain one or more bills. Annually, the Government submits around 250 legislative proposals to Parliament. Most proposals take two to four months to consider, but large legislative projects may take years. Legislative proposals and motions lapse if Parliament has not completed its consideration by the end of the parliamentary term.

A parliamentary committee must consider each proposal or motion before any decisions are made on it. The committee then prepares a report and returns the bill to Parliament's plenary session for first reading. Parliament passes or rejects the bill in plenary session's second reading.

After Parliament has passed a bill, the President of the Republic must approve it within three months. Once approved, the bill becomes an act and it is published in the Statute Book of Finland. If the President decides not to approve the bill, it will be returned to Parliament for consideration. If Parliament passes the bill again without material alterations, the act will enter into force without the President's approval. If Parliament decides not to pass the bill, it lapses.

Ministers working in Parliament

All ministers have the right to attend the plenary sessions of Parliament and participate in their debates. Ministers may attend meetings of parliamentary committees only when summoned.

The successful discharge of ministerial duties requires active participation in the work of Parliament. In particular, ministers are expected to follow the parliamentary consideration of matters falling within the purview of their respective branch of government, be present in plenary sessions when these matters are considered, and use their turn to speak in the referral debate and first reading of key government proposals.

Government Annual Report

One of the tasks of Parliament is to oversee the Government's work. To this end, the Government submits an annual report with information on the Government's actions, management of central government finances and compliance with the Budget. The annual report also lists the measures that the Government has taken in response to Parliament's resolutions and positions.


An interpellation is a question posed by at least twenty Members of Parliament to the Government or a minister concerning a matter falling within the Government’s or the minister’s areas of responsibility. Interpellations are presented in Parliament's plenary session and delivered to the Government. The Government decides on the contents of the reply to the interpellation.

If a vote on a resolution of no confidence in the Government or a minister has been proposed during consideration of the interpellation, a vote on confidence in the Government or minister is taken at the conclusion of debate on the interpellation.

Written questions, question times and topical debates

Members of Parliament may put a written question to a minister on a matter falling within the minister’s areas of responsibility. Parliament sends the written questions to the Prime Minister's Office, which then delivers them to the minister. The reply must reach Parliament within 21 days of the Prime Minister’s Office having received the question. The ministry delivers the reply to Parliament.

Question time takes place on Thursdays at the beginning of the plenary session that starts at 16.00. During question time, the Government answers short questions put by Members of Parliament. The ministers do not see the questions in advance. The replies may not last longer than one minute. Question time may be devoted to a specific theme or to matters pertaining to a specific ministry or branch of government.

The Speaker's Council may also decide to hold a topical debate. The Council agrees with the Government on the date and time of the debate and the participation of ministers.

Reports and statements

The Government may present a government report or a government statement to Parliament on a matter relating to governance of the country or international relations. The Government usually sends the report to a committee, which then draws up its own report for Members of Parliament to discuss. A statement may also be referred to a committee for consideration.
Parliament may hold a vote on confidence in the Government or a minister at the conclusion of debate on a statement, but not on a report.

Prime Minister’s announcements

At a time agreed with the Speaker, the Prime Minister may deliver a verbal announcement to Parliament on an aspect of government business. The announcement may also be delivered by a minister designated by the Prime Minister. Parliament can hold a debate in plenary session on the Prime Minister's announcement but it cannot make a decision on it.