Chapter 5. The President of the Republic and the Government
Section 54. Election of the President of the Republic
The President of the Republic is elected by a direct vote for a term of six years. The President shall be a native-born Finnish citizen. The same person may be elected President for no more than two consecutive terms of office.
The candidate who receives more than half of the votes cast in the election shall be elected President. If none of the candidates has received a majority of the votes cast, a new election shall be held between the two candidates who have received most votes. In the new election, the candidate receiving the most votes is elected President. If only one presidential candidate has been nominated, he or she is appointed President without an election.
The right to nominate a candidate in the election for President is held by any registered political party from whose candidate list at least one Representative was elected to the Parliament in the most recent parliamentary elections, as well as by any group of twenty thousand persons who have the right to vote. The time of the election and the procedure in the election of a President are laid down by an Act.
Section 55. The presidential term
The President of the Republic assumes office on the first day of the calendar month following his or her election into office.
The term of the President ends when the President elected in the next election assumes office.
If the President dies or if the Government declares that the President is permanently unable to carry out the duties of the presidency, a new President shall be elected as soon as possible.
Section 56. Solemn affirmation of the President
When the President of the Republic assumes office, he or she shall make the following solemn affirmation before the Parliament:
“I, , elected by the people of Finland as the President of the Republic, hereby affirm that in my presidential duties I shall sincerely and conscientiously observe the Constitution and the laws of the Republic, and to the best of my ability promote the wellbeing of the people of Finland.”
Section 57. Duties of the President
The President of the Republic carries out the duties stated in this Constitution or specifically stated in another Act.
Section 58. Decisions of the President
The President of the Republic makes decisions in Government on the basis of motions proposed by the Government.
If the President does not make the decision in accordance with the motion proposed by the Government, the matter is returned to the Government for preparation. In such a case, in matters other than those concerning confirmation of an Act or appointment to an office or position, the Government may present to the Parliament a report on the matter. Thereafter, the matter will be decided in accordance with the position adopted by the Parliament on the basis of the report, if this is proposed by the Government. (1112/2011, entry into force 1.3.2012)
Notwithstanding the provision in paragraph (1), the President makes decisions on the following matters without a motion from the Government:
- The appointment of the Government or a Minister, as well as the acceptance of the resignation of the Government or a Minister;
- The issuance of an order concerning extraordinary parliamentary elections;
- Presidential pardons and other matters, as specifically laid down by Acts, concerning private individuals or matters not requiring consideration in a plenary meeting of the Government; and
- Matters referred to in the Act on the Autonomy of the Åland Islands, other than those relating to the finances of the Åland Islands.
The appropriate Minister presents matters to the President. However, the appropriate government rapporteur presents a proposal concerning the alteration of the composition of the Government, where this concerns the entire Government.
The President makes decisions on matters relating to military orders in conjunction with a Minister, as provided for in more detail by an Act. The President makes decisions on military appointments and matters pertaining to the Office of the President of the Republic as provided by an Act.
Decisions on Finland’s participation in military crisis management are made as specifically provided by an Act. (1112/2011, entry into force 1.3.2012)
Section 59. Substitutes of the President
When the President of the Republic is prevented from carrying out of his or her duties, these are taken over by the Prime Minister or, if the Prime Minister too is incapacitated, by the Minister acting as Deputy Prime Minister.
Section 60. The Government
The Government consists of the Prime Minister and the necessary number of Ministers. The Ministers shall be Finnish citizens known to be honest and competent.
The Ministers are responsible before the Parliament for their actions in office. Every Minister participating in the consideration of a matter in a Government meeting is responsible for any decision made, unless he or she has expressed an objection that has been entered in the minutes.
Section 61. Formation of the Government
The Parliament elects the Prime Minister, who is thereafter appointed to the office by the President of the Republic. The President appoints the other Ministers in accordance with a proposal made by the Prime Minister.
Before the Prime Minister is elected, the groups represented in the Parliament negotiate on the political programme and composition of the Government. On the basis of the outcome of these negotiations, and after having heard the Speaker of the Parliament and the parliamentary groups, the President informs the Parliament of the nominee for Prime Minister. The nominee is elected Prime Minister if his or her election has been supported by more than half of the votes cast in an open vote in the Parliament.
If the nominee does not receive the necessary majority, another nominee shall be put forward in accordance with the same procedure. If the second nominee fails to receive the support of more than half of the votes cast, the election of the Prime Minister shall be held in the Parliament by open vote. In this event, the person receiving the most votes is elected.
The Parliament shall be in session when the Government is being appointed and when the composition of the Government is being essentially altered.
Section 62. Statement on the programme of the Government
The Government shall without delay submit its programme to the Parliament in the form of a statement. The same applies when the composition of the Government is essentially altered.
Section 63. Ministers’ personal interests
While holding the office of a Minister, a member of the Government shall not hold any other public office or undertake any other task which may obstruct the performance of his or her ministerial duties or compromise the credibility of his or her actions as a Minister.
A Minister shall, without delay after being appointed, present to the Parliament an account of his or her commercial activities, shareholdings and other significant assets, as well as of any duties outside the official duties of a Minister and of other interests which may be of relevance when his or her performance as a member of the Government is being evaluated.
Section 64. Resignation of the Government or a Minister
The President of the Republic grants, upon request, the resignation of the Government or a Minister. The President may also grant the resignation of a Minister on the proposal of the Prime Minister.
The President shall in any event dismiss the Government or a Minister, if either no longer enjoys the confidence of Parliament, even if no request is made.
If a Minister is elected President of the Republic or the Speaker of Parliament, he or she shall be considered to have resigned the office of Minister as from the day of election.
Section 65. Duties of the Government
The Government has the duties specifically provided in this Constitution, as well as the other governmental and administrative duties which have been assigned to the Government or a Minister or which have not been attributed to the competence of the President of the Republic or another public authority.
The Government implements the decisions of the President.
Section 66. Duties of the Prime Minister
The Prime Minister directs the activities of the Government and oversees the preparation and consideration of matters that come within the mandate of the Government. The Prime Minister chairs the plenary meetings of the Government.
The Prime Minister represents Finland on the European Council. Unless the Government exceptionally decides otherwise, the Prime Minister also represents Finland in other activities of the European Union requiring the participation of the highest level of State.(1112/2011, entry into force 1.3.2012)
When the Prime Minister is prevented from attending to his or her duties, the duties are taken over by the Minister designated as Deputy Prime Minister and, when the Deputy Prime Minister is prevented from attending to his other duties, by the most senior ranking Minister.
Section 67. Decision-making in the Government
The matters within the authority of the Government are decided at the plenary meetings of the Government or at the Ministry to which the matter belongs. Matters of wide importance or matters that are significant for reasons of principle, as well as matters whose significance so warrants, are decided by the Government in plenary meeting. More detailed provisions relating to the decision-making powers of the Government are laid down by an Act.
The matters to be considered by the Government shall be prepared in the appropriate Ministry. The Government may have Committees of Ministers for the preparation of matters.
The plenary meeting of the Government is competent with a quorum of five Ministers present.
Section 68. The Ministries
The Government has the requisite number of Ministries. Each Ministry, within its proper purview, is responsible for the preparation of matters to be considered by the Government and for the appropriate functioning of administration.
Each Ministry is headed by a Minister.
Provisions on the maximum number of Ministries and on the general principles for the establishment of Ministries are laid down by an Act. Provisions on the purviews of the Ministries and on the distribution of matters among them, as well as on the other forms of organisation of the Government are laid down by an Act or by a Decree issued by the Government.
Section 69. The Chancellor of Justice of the Government
Attached to the Government, there is a Chancellor of Justice and a Deputy Chancellor of Justice, who are appointed by the President of the Republic, and who shall have outstanding knowledge of law. In addition, the President appoints a substitute for the Deputy Chancellor of Justice for a term of office not exceeding five years. When the Deputy Chancellor of Justice is prevented from performing his or her duties, the substitute shall take responsibility for them.
The provisions on the Chancellor of Justice apply, in so far as appropriate, to the Deputy Chancellor of Justice and the substitute.