Parliament of Finland
When the unicameral parliament was established in 1906, Finland was an autonomous Grand Duchy under the Russian Tsar, who ruled as constitutional Grand Duke, rather than as an absolute monarch. The unicameral parliament was preceded by the Diet of Finland, which had succeeded the Riksdag of the Estates in 1809. Finland declared its independence on December 6, 1917 and in the winter of 1918 endured a tragic Finnish Civil War, after which monarchists and republicans struggled over the country's form of government. Finland became a republic, but with extensive powers reserved for the President of Finland.
Under the Finnish constitution, sovereignty belongs to the people and that power is vested in the parliament. The minimum age for voting and standing for election is currently 18.
The Parliament House was designed by J. S. Sirén and was completed in 1931. From then on and especially since the Winter War and Continuation War, which were concurrent with World War II, it has been the scene of many key stages in the nation's political life.
Constitutionally, the 200-member unicameral parliament, 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.
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.
Major political parties
Main article: Political parties in Finland
The Social Democratic Party of Finland (SDP) is mostly supported by the urban working class but it also has some support among small farmers, white-collar workers, and professionals. In the 1995 parliamentary elections, SDP gained a plurality in Finland's parliament with 28% of the vote. But as it won far less than an overall majority, a five-party governing coalition was formed, baptized the "Rainbow-coalition". In the 1999 general election, the SDP maintained its plurality with 22.9%, but the Center party came in as a near second with 22.4%. The coalition continued with little changes.
The Leftist Alliance (LA), the SDP's rival on the left, gained 11% of the vote in 1995 and joined the SDP-led cabinet. In the 1999 elections it again got 11% of the vote, and remained in cabinet. The LA was formed in May 1990 and replaced the People's Democratic League, the group that represented the Finnish Communist Party in the Eduskunta. Political activity by Communists was legalized after the Continuation War in 1944.
Finland's two other major parties are the Center Party (Keskusta), traditionally representing rural interests, and the Conservative National Coalition (Kokoomus), which draws its major support from the business community and urban professionals. The Center won nearly 20% and the Conservatives 18% of the vote in 1995. In the 1995 elections, they won 22.9% and 21% of the vote, respectively. The Conservatives were the second-largest party in the SDP-led coalition, which is rounded out by the Swedish People's Party and the Green League (which left the Rainbow-coalition after the decision to build a fifth nuclear reactor).
Election results 2003
Main article: Elections in Finland
- 55 (Centre Party of Finland) (Keskusta, Centern)
- 53 (Social Democratic Party of Finland) (Sosiaalidemokraattinen Puolue, Socialdemokratiska Partiet)
- 40 (National Coalition Party) (Kokoomus, Samlingspartiet)
- 19 (Left Alliance) (Vasemmistoliitto, Vänsterförbundet)
- 14 (Green League) (Vihreä Liitto, Gröna förbundet)
- 8 (Christian Democrats) (Kristillisdemokraatit, Kristdemokraterna)
- 7 (Swedish People's Party) (Ruotsalainen Kansanpuolue, Svenska Folkpartiet)
- 3 (True Finns) (Perussuomalaiset, Sannfinnarna)
- 1 Åland representative
- Politics of Finland
- Parliament of Åland
- Government of Finland
- President of Finland
- Prime Minister of Finland