Last Updated: Thursday, 24 July 2014, 11:06 GMT

Constitution Act of Finland

Publisher National Legislative Bodies
Author Republic of Finland
Publication Date 17 July 1919
Reference FIN-010
Cite as Constitution Act of Finland [],  17 July 1919, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b53418.html [accessed 24 July 2014]
Comments This is the official consolidated translation. The Act, No. 94 of 17 July 1919, was promulgated in Helsinki on 17 July 1919. The latest amendment included here was Act No. 969 of 17 July 1995.
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

I.General Provisions

Section 1

(17 July 1995/969)

Finland is a sovereign Republic, the constitution of which shall guarantee the inviolability of human dignity and the freedom and rights of the individual as well as promoting justice in society.

The democratic constitution of Finland is confirmed in this Constitution Act and in other Constitutional Acts of Parliament.

Section 2

Sovereign power in Finland shall belong to the people, represented by Parliament convened in session.

Legislative power shall be exercised by Parliament in conjunction with the President of the Republic.

Supreme executive power shall be vested in the President of the Republic. In addition, for the general government of the State there shall be a Council of State comprising the Prime Minister and the requisite number of Ministers.

Judicial power shall be exercised by independent courts of law, at the highest instance the Supreme Court and the Supreme Administrative Court.

Section 3

The territory of the State of Finland shall be indivisible. Its boundaries may not be altered except by Parliamentary consent.

Section 4

Everyone born of Finnish parents shall have the right of Finnish nationality. (1 December 1967/518)

A citizen of a foreign State may be granted Finnish nationality under the conditions and in the manner prescribed separately by Act of Parliament.

II. Fundamental Rights

(17 July 1995/969)

Section 5

(17 July 1995/969)

All persons shall be equal before the law.

No one shall, without acceptable grounds, be afforded a different status on account of sex, age, origin, language, religion, conviction, opinion, state of health, disability or any other reason related to the person.

Children shall be treated equally as individuals and shall be permitted to influence matters affecting them according to their degree of maturity.

Equality of the sexes shall be promoted in social activities and in working life, particularly in the determination of remuneration and other terms of service, in a manner more precisely specified by Act of Parliament.

Section 6

(17 July 1995/969)

Everyone shall have the right to life and personal liberty, physical integrity and security of person.

No one shall be sentenced to death, tortured or otherwise treated in a degrading manner.

There shall be no interference in personal integrity, nor shall anyone be deprived of his liberty in an arbitrary manner and without grounds prescribed by Act of Parliament. All penalties entailing deprivation of liberty shall be imposed by a court of law. The lawfulness of other forms of deprivation of liberty may be submitted to judicial review. The rights of persons who have been deprived their liberty shall be secured by Act of Parliament.

Section 6a

(17 July 1995/969)

No one may be found guilty of a criminal offence or sentenced to a penalty on account of some act for which no penalty had been prescribed by Act of Parliament at the time of its commission. No greater penalty shall be imposed for a crime than that which was prescribed by Act of Parliament at the time of its commission.

Section 7

(17 July 1995/969)

Finnish citizens and aliens lawfully resident in Finland shall have the right to move freely within the country and to choose their place of residence.

Everyone shall have the right to leave the country. Necessary restrictions on this right may be prescribed by Act of Parliament in order to ensure legal proceedings or the enforcement of a penalty or to secure performance of the obligation to defend the country.

Finnish citizens shall not be prevented from returning to the country, nor shall they be expelled from the country or extradited or transported to another country against their will.

Provisions on the right of aliens to enter Finland and to reside in the country shall be prescribed by Act of Parliament. No alien may be expelled, extradited or returned if, on account of this, he risks the death penalty, torture or other degrading treatment.

Section 8

(17 July 1995/969)

The private life, honour and home of every person shall be secured. More detailed provisions on the protection of personal data shall be prescribed by Act of Parliament.

The secrecy of correspondence and of telephone and other confidential communications shall be inviolable.

Measures impinging on the sphere of the home which are necessary for the protection of fundamental rights or the detection of crime may be prescribed by Act of Parliament. Necessary restrictions on the secrecy of communications may also be provided by Act of Parliament in the investigation of offences which endanger the security of society or of the individual or which disturb domestic peace, in legal proceedings and security checks as well as during deprivation of liberty.

Section 9

(17 July 1995/969)

Everyone shall have the right to freedom of religion and conscience.

The right to freedom of religion and conscience shall include the right to profess and practice a religion, the right to express a conviction and the right to belong or not to belong to a religious community. No one shall be required to participate in religious practices to which they are conscientiously opposed.

Section 10

(17 July 1995/969)

Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression. The right to freedom of expression shall include the right to impart, publish and receive information, opinions and other communications without prior hindrance from anyone. More precise provisions on the exercise of the right to freedom of expression shall be prescribed by Act of Parliament. Restrictions on pictorial programmes necessary for the protection of children may be prescribed by Act of Parliament.

The documents and other records in the possession of public authorities shall be public unless their publicity has been separately restricted by Act of Parliament for compelling reasons. Everyone shall have the right to obtain information from public documents and records.

Section 10a

(17 July 1995/969)

Everyone shall have the right, without obtaining permission, to arrange meetings and demonstrations and to participate therein.

Everyone shall have the right to freedom of association with others. The right to freedom of association shall include the right to found an association, to belong or not to belong to an association and to participate in the activities of an association. The right to form, join and participate in the activities of trade unions and the right to organise for the protection of other interests shall likewise be guaranteed.

More detailed provisions on the exercise of the right to freedom of assembly and the right to freedom of association shall be prescribed by Act of Parliament.

Section 11

(17 July 1995/969)

Every Finnish citizen who has reached the age of eighteen years shall have the right to vote in national elections and referenda. Separate constitutional provisions shall govern eligibility in national elections. (22 December 1995/1641)

Provided that he has reached the age of eighteen years, every Finnish citizen and every alien residing permanently in Finland shall have the right to vote in local elections and in local referenda in the manner prescribed by Act of Parliament. Provisions on the right to participate in local government in other ways shall be prescribed by Act of Parliament. (22 December 1995/1641)

It shall be the task of public authorities to promote the opportunities of the individual to participate in the activities of society and to influence decision-making affecting him.

Section 12

(17 July 1995/969)

The property of every person shall be protected.

Provisions governing the expropriation of property for public purposes and for full compensation shall be prescribed by Act of Parliament.

Section 13

(17 July 1995/969)

Everyone shall have to right to primary education free of charge. Provisions on compulsory education shall be prescribed by Act of Parliament.

In a manner more precisely prescribed by Act of Parliament, public authorities shall secure for everyone an equal opportunity to obtain education other than primary education which accords with their abilities and special needs and to develop themselves without hindrance due to lack of means.

The freedom of science, the arts and higher education shall be guaranteed.

Section 14

(17 July 1995/969)

The national languages of Finland shall be Finnish and Swedish.

The right of everyone to use his own language, whether Finnish or Swedish, as a party in proceedings before a court of law or other authority, and to obtain documents from them in that language, shall be guaranteed by Act of Parliament. Public authorities shall take care to provide for the educational, cultural and social needs of the Finnish-speaking and the Swedish-speaking populations of the country according to similar principles.

The Sami as an indigenous people as well as the Romanies and other groups shall have the right to maintain and develop their own languages and cultures. Provisions governing the right of the Sami to use the Sami language before the public authorities shall be prescribed by Act of Parliament. The rights of those who use sign language and of those who require interpretation or translation because of a disability shall be guaranteed by Act of Parliament.

Section 14a

(17 July 1995/969)

Everyone shall be responsible for the natural world and for its diversity, for the environment and for the cultural heritage.

Public authorities shall strive to ensure for everyone the right to a healthy environment as well as the opportunity to influence decision-making concerning his living environment.

Section 15

(17 July 1995/969)

Everyone shall have the lawful right to procure a living through the work, occupation or trade of his choice. Public authorities shall ensure the protection of labour.

Public authorities shall promote employment and shall strive to secure the right to work for everyone. Provisions on the right to vocational training shall be prescribed by Act of Parliament.

No one shall be dismissed from work without grounds prescribed by Act of Parliament.

Section 15a

(17 July 1995/969)

Everyone who is unable to procure the security required for a dignified life shall have the right to necessary subsistence and care.

The right to security of basic livelihood at times of unemployment, illness, inability to work and old age as well as on account of childbirth and loss of provider shall be guaranteed to everyone by Act of Parliament.

Public authorities shall, in the manner stipulated in greater detail by Act of Parliament, secure for everyone adequate social welfare and health services and shall promote the health of the population. Public authorities shall also support the abilities of families and others charged with the care of children to provide for their welfare and individual growth.

It shall be the task of public authorities to promote the right of everyone to a dwelling and to support the efforts of persons to provide their own housing.

Section 16

(17 July 1995/969)

Everyone shall have the right to have his affairs considered appropriately and without undue delay by a lawfully competent court of justice or other public authority as well as the right to have a decision concerning his rights and obligations reviewed by a court of justice or other independent judicial organ.

The publicity of proceedings and the right to be heard, to receive a decision with stated grounds and to appeal against the decision as well as other guarantees of a fair trial and of good public administration shall be secured by Act of Parliament.

Section 16a

(17 July 1995/969)

Public authorities shall secure the implementation of fundamental rights and of international human rights.

Temporary exceptions to fundamental rights which are consistent with Finland's international human rights obligations and of a character necessary during an armed attack on Finland as well as under exceptional circumstances threatening the life of the nation and lawfully comparable in gravity to an armed attack may be prescribed by Act of Parliament.

III. Legislation

Section 17

The organisation of Parliament and its duties shall be prescribed in the Parliament Act.

Section 18

Both the President and Parliament shall have the right to propose a new Act of Parliament or that an existing Act be amended, expounded or repealed.

The President shall exercise his right of initiative by submitting bills to Parliament with accompanying legislative proposals. The draft bills shall be prepared by the Council of State. A statement concerning any such draft bill may be obtained, depending on the nature of the matter, either from the Supreme Court or from the Supreme Administrative Court or from both.

The exercise by Parliament of its right of initiative shall be prescribed in the Parliament Act.

Section 19

When an Act has been approved by Parliament, it shall be submitted for ratification to the President, who may request a statement concerning the Act either from the Supreme Court or from the Supreme Administrative Court or from both, depending on the nature of the matter.

An Act shall be ratified in the form in which Parliament approved it within three months of the date when it was submitted to the President for ratification. If the President fails to ratify an Act, it shall be returned to Parliament. An Act which has not been ratified shall nevertheless enter into force if Parliament, in the first regular session following that during which the Act was submitted for ratification, re-approves the Act in an unamended form in the sense prescribed in the Parliament Act. A returned Act which is not re-approved shall be deemed to have lapsed. (26 June 1987/575)

(Paragraph 3 was repealed by the Act of 26 June 1987/575.)

Section 20

It shall be stated in the preamble to each Act of Parliament that the Act has been enacted according to a decision of Parliament and, when an Act has been enacted pursuant to the procedure in force for the enactment of Constitutional Acts, it shall also be stated that this procedure has been complied with.

An Act that has been ratified or that shall enter into force unratified shall be signed by the President and countersigned by the competent Minister. Thereafter, the Council of State shall publish the Act in The Statutes of Finland. (15 August 1980/607)

An Act shall make clear the date of its entry into force. If the Act has not been published by the date of entry into force given in the Act, it shall enter into force on the day when it is published. (15 August 1980/607)

Section 21

The right of the President to issue Decrees is prescribed in section 28.

Section 22

All Acts and Decrees, as well as all Government bills to Parliament and the replies, proposals and other communications of Parliament to the Government shall be issued in the Finnish and Swedish languages.

IIIa.Public Referendum

(26 June 1987/570)

Section 22 a

(26 June 1987/570)

Provisions for the holding of a consultative referendum shall be determined by Act of Parliament. The Act shall contain provisions on the date of the referendum and on the alternatives to be presented to the voters. The State shall inform the voters of the alternatives and support the dissemination of information about them as prescribed in the aforesaid Act.

(Paragraph 2 was repealed by the Act of 17 July 1995/969)

Provisions on the procedure to be applied in a consultative referendum shall be prescribed by Act of Parliament.

IV. Government and Administration

Section 23

(22 July 1991/1074)

The President of the Republic shall be elected directly by the people of Finland from among Finnish citizens by birth for a term of six years.

The same person may be elected President for no more than two consecutive terms.

Section 23a

(22 July 1991/1074)

The right to nominate a presidential candidate shall be possessed by any registered party from whose lists at least one representative has been elected in the preceding parliamentary election or by any group of twenty thousand people entitled to vote in the presidential elections who have agreed to nominate a common candidate.

Section 23b

(22 July 1991/1074)

If only one candidate has been nominated, he shall become President of the Republic without an election.

If more than one candidate has been nominated, the presidential election shall be held on the third Sunday in January. If one of the candidates receives more than half of the votes cast in the election, he shall be elected President of the Republic.

If no one receives the majority prescribed in paragraph 2, a new election shall be held on the third Sunday after the first election. In this election, the candidates shall be the two persons who received the greatest number of votes in the first election. The candidate receiving the majority of votes in this second election shall be elected President of the Republic. If the votes are divided equally the election shall be decided by the drawing of lots.

Section 23c

(22 July 1991/1074)

If a duly nominated candidate dies or suffers permanent impediment before the end of the first election, arrangements for new elections shall be made as soon as possible. The same procedure shall be followed if a candidate in the second election dies or suffers permanent impediment before the end of the election or if the President-elect dies or suffers permanent impediment before taking office.

Section 23d

(22 July 1991/1074)

(Paragraph 1 was repealed by the Act of 17 July 1995/969)

Provisions regarding advance participation in presidential elections shall be prescribed by Act of Parliament. More detailed provisions on the nomination of candidates and the procedure to be followed in Presidential elections shall be established by Act of Parliament.

Section 23e

(22 July 1991/1074)

The President shall take office on the first day of March following his election to office.

A President elected in an election arranged due to an event referred to in section 23 c shall take office on the third day after his election as President of the Republic has been confirmed.

The Presidential term of office shall end when the President elected in the following election takes office.

Section 24

(22 July 1991/1074)

When the President takes office, he shall make the following solemn affirmation before Parliament:

"I, N.N., whom the people of Finland have chosen as President of the Republic of Finland, hereby declare that in my office as President I shall sincerely and faithfully observe and uphold the constitution and the law of the Republic, and with all my powers, shall promote the prosperity of the people of Finland."

Section 25

(9 November 1956/588)

Should the President be prevented from attending to his duties, these shall be attended to by the Prime Minister or, if the latter is also prevented, by the Minister who is acting as deputy Prime Minister under the provisions of section 39. If the President dies or if he suffers permanent impediment, a new President shall be elected as soon as possible. He shall take office on the day prescribed in section 23 e, paragraph 2. (22 July 1991/1074)

If the Prime Minister or another Minister is a Member of Parliament, he may not participate in parliamentary business while he is attending to the duties of the President.

Section 26

The President shall receive an annual salary for performing his duties, the amount of which shall be confirmed by Act of Parliament and shall be neither increased nor decreased during his term of office.

Section 27

(22 July 1991/1074)

It shall be the duty of the President to convene extraordinary Parliamentary sessions, to open regular parliamentary sessions and, at the end of the regular electoral period, to declare the parliamentary business concluded for the said electoral period.

On the basis of a reasoned initiative by the Prime Minister, the President may, after consulting the Speaker of Parliament and the various parliamentary factions, and at a time when Parliament is in session, dissolve Parliament by ordering that new elections be held.

Section 28

Unless otherwise prescribed in this Form of Government Act, or unless the said right has been vested in the Council of State, the President shall have the right to issue Decrees on matters that have previously been arranged by means of administrative regulations and also, by Decree, to issue more detailed stipulations on the implementation of Acts of Parliament, on the management of State property as well as on the organisation and operations of administrative agencies and public services. A Decree shall not contain a provision that would effect an amendment to an Act of Parliament.

The issuing, publication and entry into force of a Decree shall be governed by the provisions on Acts of Parliament contained in section 20, paragraphs 2 and 3. (15 August 1980/607)

Section 29

In individual cases the President may, after obtaining a statement from the Supreme Court, annul or reduce a sentence by granting a pardon. The granting of a pardon to a member of the Council of State or to the Chancellor of Justice shall, however, be governed by separate provisions on this. A general amnesty shall not be granted except by a specific Act of Parliament on this matter.

The President may also allow an exemption from the provisions of the law in those cases where the right to grant such dispensations has been provided by law.

Section 30

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Finland, but in time of war he may turn the command over to another person.

Section 31

The President shall have the power to grant the right to Finnish nationality to a citizen of a foreign State and to release a Finnish citizen from Finnish nationality.

Section 32

The President shall supervise State administration and, for this purpose, may demand information from the heads or governing boards of State agencies and public institutions and may also carry out inspections.

Section 33

The relations of Finland with foreign powers shall be determined by the President. Treaties concluded with foreign States shall, however, be approved by Parliament if they contain provisions within the legislative sphere or if the consent of Parliament is otherwise required by the constitution. Decisions concerning war and peace shall be made by the President with the consent of Parliament.

All communications to foreign States or to Finnish envoys abroad shall be dispatched through the Minister in charge of Foreign Affairs.

Section 33a

(10 December 1993/1116)

Parliament shall participate in the national preparation of decisions to be made by international organs in the manner prescribed in the Parliament Act.

Notwithstanding the provisions of section 33, the Council of State shall determine the content of the national preparation of a decision to be made by the international organs referred to in paragraph 1 and, insofar as such a decision requires neither the approval of Parliament nor, in virtue of its content, the issuing of a Decree, shall also decide on other associated measures to be taken by Finland.

Section 34

The President shall make his decisions in the Council of State on the basis of a presentation by the competent Minister.

In order to enter into force, presidential decisions shall be signed by the President and countersigned by the presenting Minister. This shall not, however, apply to matters referred to in sections 32 and 47.

If a presidential decision concerns the entire Council of State, it shall be countersigned by the competent presenting official of the Council of State.

The presentation of matters of military command and military appointments and the countersigning of presidential decisions on these matters shall be governed by separate provisions.

Whoever has countersigned a presidential decision shall be responsible for the correctness of the document containing the said decision.

Section 35

If a Minister finds that a presidential decision is contrary to law, he shall notify the Council of State of his opinion, which shall then proceed as stated in section 45. If the decision would be contrary to a Constitutional Act, the Minister shall be obliged to refuse to countersign it.

Section 36

(26 June 1987/575)

The members of the Council of State must enjoy the confidence of Parliament.

After consulting the various parliamentary factions, the President shall appoint citizens of Finland known for their honesty and ability to serve as members of the Council of State. Should the composition of the Council of State undergo significant changes, the Speaker of Parliament and the various parliamentary factions shall be consulted as to the situation and Parliament shall be in session. (22 July 1991/1074)

The Minister in charge of the administration of Justice and at least one other Minister must be learned in law.

Section 36a

(22 July 1991/1074)

The Council of State shall without delay present Parliament with a statement of its programme. The same procedure shall be followed if the composition of the Council of State undergoes significant changes.

Section 36b

(22 July 1991/1074)

Upon request the President shall release the Council of State or a member thereof from service and may do so without prior request, if the Council of State or a member thereof no longer enjoys the confidence of Parliament. At the initiative of the Prime Minister the President may also release a member of the Council of State from service for other reasons.

If a member of the Council of State is elected President, he shall be deemed to have resigned his membership from the day on which he takes office as President. After he has been elected President, a member of the Council of State may not, however, attend to any Ministerial duties with the exception of the duty prescribed in section 25, paragraph 1.

Section 36c

(3 March 1995/270)

During his term of office as a minister, a member of the Council of State shall neither attend to the duties of a public administrative position nor perform any other task which could hamper the performance of his ministerial duties or undermine public confidence in his activities as a member of the Council of State.

Section 37

(21 December 1990/1221)

A Chancellor of Justice, who must be eminently competent in matters of law, shall sit on the Council of State. The Chancellor of Justice shall be assisted by an Assistant Chancellor of Justice, who shall attend to his duties when necessary. The Assistant Chancellor of Justice shall have a deputy, who shall attend to the duties of the Assistant Chancellor of Justice should the latter be prevented from doing so. The deputy shall be appointed by the President of the Republic for a period not exceeding five years.

Section 38

The Council of State shall include the number of Ministries required for the different branches of administration. Each Ministry shall be headed by a Minister.

The maximum number of Ministries and the general principles governing their establishment shall be prescribed by Act of Parliament. The scope of the authority of the Ministries and the division of tasks between them together with the organisation of the Council of State in other respects shall be prescribed by Act of Parliament or by Decree. (17 July 1995/976)

Section 39

(9 November 1956/588)

The Prime Minister shall serve as chairman of the Council of State. If he is prevented from doing so, the chairman shall be the Minister whom the President has appointed deputy Prime Minister. If the latter Minister is also prevented from serving as chairman, the chair shall be occupied by the most senior Minister present. Whenever matters falling within the competence of the President are presented to him in the Council of State, the President shall direct the handling of these matters.

While the Prime Minister or another Minister is attending to the duties of the President pursuant to section 25, that Minister shall refrain from performing his ministerial duties.

Section 40

(10 December 1993/1119)

The Council of State shall attend to the implementation of the decisions of the President. The business of the Council of State shall include those matters of government and public administration which have been prescribed for decision by the Council of State or by the Ministries in this Constitution Act or in another Act of Parliament or Decree or which have not been reserved for the President or entrusted to a subordinate public authority in the said manner.

Matters within the competence of the Council of State shall be considered in an ordinary session thereof or by the competent Ministry. Matters of far-reaching significance or important matters of principle as well as other matters whose significance so demands shall be decided in an ordinary session. The principles governing the organisation of authority to decide matters shall otherwise be prescribed by Act of Parliament. More precise provisions governing the authority to decide matters shall be issued by Decree.

Five members shall constitute a quorum at an ordinary session of the Council of State.

Section 41

(Paragraph 1 was repealed by the Act of 10 December 1993/1119)

The extent to which matters concerning the administration of the judiciary, the University of Helsinki and the Armed Forces have been excluded from consideration by the Council of State shall be evident from specific provisions.

Section 42

If the Council of State considers that there is doubt as to whether the Council of State has the power to make a final decision on a particular matter, the question shall be decided by the President.

Section 43

The members of the Council of State shall be responsible to Parliament for their official acts.

Each member of the Council of State who has participated in the consideration of a matter in the Council of State shall be responsible for the decision unless he has notified his dissenting opinion for inclusion in the minutes.

Section 44

Matters for consideration in the Council of State shall have been prepared by the competent Ministry.

Each Ministry shall supervise the administration under its authority and shall implement Acts of Parliament, Decrees and decisions of the Council of State.

Section 45

If it happens that a decision of the President, which the Council of State has to implement, conflicts with the law, the Council of State shall be obliged, after obtaining a statement on the matter from the Chancellor of Justice, to propose to the President that the decision be withdrawn or amended and, if the President nevertheless persists in his decision, to notify him that the decision cannot be implemented.

Section 46

The Chancellor of Justice shall oversee that public authorities and officials in the performance of their duties as well as the employees of public corporations and other persons performing public functions comply with the law and fulfil their obligations in such a manner that no person's lawful rights are infringed. In the performance of his duties the Chancellor of Justice shall also supervise the implementation of fundamental rights and international human rights. (17 July 1995/969)

In the Supreme Court and the Supreme Administrative Court, the Chancellor of Justice shall represent the body of public prosecutors and shall otherwise oversee the interests of the State in addition to prosecuting charges in other courts, or having them prosecuted, when he deems this necessary. As the supreme public prosecutor, the Chancellor of Justice shall also supervise the public prosecutors, who shall be bound to comply with his orders.

The Chancellor of Justice has the right to attend sessions of the Council of State and of all courts of law and government agencies, and to obtain information from the minutes and records of the Council of State, its Ministries, the courts of law and other authorities.

Section 47

If the Council of State or a member thereof, in an official act, proceeds in an unlawful manner, the Chancellor of Justice shall object to this and at the same time state what is unlawful about the procedure. If the objection is not heeded, the Chancellor of Justice shall have his opinion entered in the minutes of the Council of State. He shall also have the right to submit a report on the matter to the President. If the unlawful act is such that charges against the member of the Council of State may be brought on its basis in the High Court of Impeachment referred to in section 59, and if the President orders the charges to be brought, then the Chancellor of Justice shall serve as prosecutor. If the President considers that there is no reason to bring charges, then the Chancellor of Justice may notify Parliament about the matter. If the President orders charges to be brought against the Chancellor of Justice, the charges shall be prosecuted by a person appointed by the President.

Should the President, in an official act, proceed in an unlawful manner, then the Chancellor of Justice shall object to this in the manner prescribed above in paragraph 1. If the Chancellor of Justice or the Council of State consider that the President has committed high treason or treason, then the Chancellor of Justice or the Council of State shall notify Parliament of the matter. If Parliament then decides, by a majority of three fourths of the votes cast, that charges are to be brought, then the charges shall be prosecuted by the Chancellor of Justice in the Supreme Court and the President shall refrain from exercising his functions while the matter is pending. In no other case shall charges be brought against the President for an official act. (21 April 1995/579)

Section 48

Each year the Chancellor of Justice shall submit a report both to the President and to Parliament on the course of his official duties and his observations on how the law has been complied with.

The Chancellor of Justice shall submit information and statements to the President and the Council of State upon request.

Section 49

(26 April 1957/176)

During a regular parliamentary session a Parliamentary Ombudsman shall be elected to serve for a term of four years at a time. The person elected shall be someone distinguished for his knowledge of the law. The election shall be performed according to the procedure provided for the election of the Speaker of Parliament. The same provisions regarding election procedure and term of office shall apply to the Assistant Parliamentary Ombudsman, who shall be elected to assist the Ombudsman and, if necessary, to attend to his duties, and also to a deputy, who shall attend to the duties of the Assistant Ombudsman when the latter is prevented from doing so. If the Ombudsman dies or resigns from office before the end of his term, Parliament may elect a new Ombudsman for the remainder of the term. (17 July 1995/969)

Pursuant to the instructions compiled for him by Parliament, the task of the Parliamentary Ombudsman shall be to oversee that the courts of justice and other public authorities as well as public officials in the performance of their duties, the employees of public corporations and other persons performing public functions comply with the law and fulfil their obligations. In the performance of his duties the Parliamentary Ombudsman shall also supervise the implementation of fundamental rights and international human rights. (17 July 1995/969)

The Parliamentary Ombudsman shall have the same right as the Chancellor of Justice to attend sessions of the Council of State, the courts of law and government agencies, to obtain information from the minutes and records of the Council of State and its Ministries, the courts of law and other authorities, and to prosecute charges or have charges prosecuted for any error or negligence which he finds in the activities under his supervision. If the Council of State or a member thereof, in an official act, proceeds in an unlawful manner, the Parliamentary Ombudsman is empowered to object to this, and he shall at the same time state what is unlawful about the procedure. If the objection is not heeded or if the nature of the matter so demands, the Parliamentary Ombudsman is empowered to report the matter to Parliament. (21 December 1990/1221)

Each year the Ombudsman shall submit a report to Parliament on the course of his official duties and also on the standard of judicial practice and any defects that he has noticed in legislation.

If the Ombudsman, in an official act, has proceeded in an unlawful manner, Parliament may order charges to be brought against him. (21 December 1990/1221)

Section 50

For general administration, Finland shall continue to be divided into provinces, population register districts and municipalities.

Any changes in the number of provinces shall be prescribed by Act of Parliament. Any other changes in administrative division shall be determined by the Council of State unless otherwise prescribed by Act of Parliament.

In any rearrangement of the boundaries of administrative districts, care shall be taken that, where circumstances permit, the districts are monolingual, either Finnish-speaking or Swedish-speaking, or that their linguistic minorities are as small as possible.

Section 51

The administration of a province shall be headed by a governor.

The administration of municipalities shall be based on self-government of the citizens according to specific Acts of Parliament on this matter. The manner and extent of the application of self-government of the citizens to administrative districts larger than the municipalities shall likewise be prescribed by law. When determining the boundaries of such districts, the provisions of section 50, paragraph 3 shall apply.

Provisions on the participation of foreigners in municipal administration shall be prescribed by law. (30 December 1991/1717)

Section 51a

(17 July 1995/973)

As an indigenous people the Sami shall be guaranteed cultural autonomy in respect of their language and culture within the Sami homelands in the manner prescribed by Act of Parliament.

Section 52

Specific provisions shall govern the agencies that exist or are to be established for different branches of State administration.

IV a. The Autonomy of Åland

(18 February 1994/128)

Section 52a

The Province of Åland shall be autonomous in the manner separately prescribed.

V. Courts of Law

Section 53

The Supreme Court shall exercise highest jurisdiction in general legal proceedings and shall, in addition, supervise the administration of justice by the judiciary and by execution authorities.

Section 54

The Supreme Court shall comprise a President and the requisite number of Supreme Court Justices.

Matters of judicial administration assigned to the Supreme Court by specific provisions shall be prepared by that Ministry of the Council of State to which matters of judicial administration have been assigned. The head of this Ministry is to be present in the Supreme Court when the said matters are considered.

Five members of the Supreme Court shall constitute a quorum unless a greater or lesser number of members is separately prescribed by Act of Parliament. (3 March 1995/267)

Section 55

Provisions on general courts of appeal and of first instance shall be prescribed by Act of Parliament.

Section 56

With certain separately prescribed exceptions, the Supreme Administrative Court shall exercise the highest appellate jurisdiction in the field of administrative law and shall oversee the exercise of judicial authority by lower officials in the sphere of administrative law.

Section 57

The Supreme Administrative Court shall comprise a President and the requisite number of Supreme Administrative Court Justices. The provisions of section 54, paragraph 3 regarding the Supreme Court shall apply to a quorum in this Court.

Section 58

It shall be the task of the Supreme Court or the Supreme Administrative Court, when they consider it necessary that an Act of Parliament or a Decree be amended or expounded, to propose to the President that such legislation be initiated.

Section 59

(21 December 1990/1221)

If charges for proceeding in an unlawful manner in an official act are brought against a member of the Council of State, the Supreme Court or the Supreme Administrative Court or against the Chancellor of Justice, the Assistant Chancellor of Justice, or his deputy, or against the Parliamentary Ombudsman, the Assistant Parliamentary Ombudsman or his deputy, then the matter shall be heard in a special court, the High Court of Impeachment, which shall be governed by a separate Constitutional Act of Parliament.

If Parliament has decided to have charges brought against a member of the Council of State, the Chancellor of Justice, the Assistant Chancellor of Justice or his deputy, the charges shall be prosecuted by the Parliamentary Ombudsman. Charges against the Parliamentary Ombudsman, the Assistant Parliamentary Ombudsman or his deputy shall be prosecuted by a person appointed by Parliament.

Section 60

Provisions on special courts other than that referred to in section 59 shall be prescribed by Act of Parliament.

No temporary courts shall be established.

VI.State Finances

(22 July 1991/1077)

Section 61

(22 July 1991/1077)

Provisions on state taxation shall be prescribed by an Act of Parliament containing provisions on the basis of tax liability and its extent as well as on the legal safeguards of the taxpayer.

Section 62

(22 July 1991/1077)

Provisions on the general bases for dues payable for the official functions, services or other acts of State authorities and the general bases for their amount shall be prescribed by Act of Parliament.

Section 63

(22 July 1991/1077)

Provisions regulating the competence of and procedure for exercising State control in companies where the State has a controlling interest shall be prescribed by Act of Parliament. Likewise, it shall be prescribed by Act of Parliament whether parliamentary consent is necessary for the acquisition or relinquishing of control in a company.

Section 64

(22 July 1991/1077)

The taking of a State loan shall be based on the consent of Parliament, which shall make clear the maximum amount of new loans and of the national debt.

A State surety or a State guarantee may be given on the basis of an Act or of the consent of Parliament.

Section 65

(22 July 1991/1077)

State agencies and institutions may be established within the limits of the State budget after the general grounds for them have been prescribed by Act of Parliament.

Provisions on the general bases for the operation and finances of State business enterprises shall be prescribed by Act of Parliament. In connection with the deliberation of the State budget, Parliament shall approve the principal service purposes and other operational aims of the enterprise.

The terms and conditions of service of civil servants may be determined by public sector collective bargaining agreements as prescribed by Act of Parliament. The competent special Committee of Parliament shall approve the collective agreement on behalf of Parliament insofar as Parliamentary consent is necessary. By Act of Parliament the Committee may also be assigned the task of approving on behalf of Parliament, as grounds for a State subsidy, the terms and conditions of service upon which the amount of the subsidy by law depends.

Section 66

(22 July 1991/1077)

For each financial year Parliament shall determine the State budget, which shall be published in The Statutes of Finland.

The Council of State may furnish Parliament with a long-term plan for State finances in the form of a report or a statement.

Section 67

(22 July 1991/1077)

The State budget shall contain estimates of annual revenues and appropriations for annual expenditures as well as the proposed use of the appropriations and other reasons for the budget. If so prescribed by Act of Parliament, estimated revenues or appropriations may be included in the budget in the form of the difference between closely related revenues and expenditures.

The revenue estimates included in the budget shall cover the appropriations included therein. Any surplus or deficit in the final accounts of the State may be taken into consideration in covering appropriations in the manner prescribed by Act of Parliament.

Revenue estimates and appropriations of State business enterprises shall be included in the budget only to the extent prescribed by Act of Parliament.

Revenue estimates and appropriations corresponding to closely related revenues and expenses may be included in the budget for more than one financial year in the manner prescribed by Act of Parliament.

Section 68

(22 July 1991/1077)

Any decision approved by Parliament on the basis of a budget motion shall be conditionally included in the State budget. The President shall decide on the ratification of the conditional decision within two months of publication of the budget. If the President does not ratify the decision, the matter shall be returned to Parliament, which shall make the final decision on inclusion of the conditional decision in the budget.

Section 69

(22 July 1991/1077)

The budget proposal and the other Government bills related thereto shall be submitted to Parliament well before the beginning of the financial year.

If the publication of the budget is delayed beyond the beginning of the financial year, the budget proposal of the Government shall be complied with as an interim budget in the manner decided by Parliament.

If changes in the budget are unavoidable, the Government shall submit a supplementary budget proposal to Parliament.

Section 70

(22 July 1991/1077)

Appropriations shall be included in the State budget as fixed appropriations, estimated appropriations or transferable appropriations. An estimated appropriation may be exceeded and a transferable appropriation may be carried forward in the manner prescribed by Act of Parliament. Unless permitted by Act of Parliament, a fixed appropriation and a transferable appropriation may not be exceeded and a fixed appropriation may not be transferred.

Unless this has been permitted in the budget, an appropriation may not be transferred from one budget item to another. The transfer of an appropriation to another item with a closely related purpose may, however, be permitted by Act of Parliament.

Authorisation may be granted in the budget to make expenditure commitments during the financial year for which the necessary appropriations will be included in the budgets for the following financial years. The authorisation shall be limited with regard to both amount and purpose.

Regardless of the budget, everyone shall have the right to receive from the State what is due to him by law.

Section 71

(22 July 1991/1077)

Parliament shall oversee the finances of the State and supervise compliance with the budget. The State auditors shall be appointed for this purpose.

The State auditors shall be entitled to obtain the information and documents they require from the authorities. Provisions regarding the right of the State auditors to obtain from elsewhere the information necessary for their work shall be prescribed by Act of Parliament.

For the purposes of auditing State finances and compliance with the budget there shall be a State Auditing Agency.

Section 72

(22 July 1991/1077)

The currency of Finland shall be the markka. Provisions on the determination of the foreign exchange rate of the markka shall be prescribed by Act of Parliament.

Section 73

(22 July 1991/1077)

The Bank of Finland shall function under the guarantee and management of Parliament and under the supervision of Governors elected by Parliament.

The Bank of Finland shall be managed in a manner prescribed by Act of Parliament.

Parliament shall decide on the use of the profits of the Bank of Finland for the needs of the State.

Section 74

(22 July 1991/1077)

The conveyance or mortgaging of State-owned real property may take place with Parliamentary consent or in a manner prescribed by Act of Parliament.

VII.The Armed Forces

Section 75

Every Finnish citizen shall be under an obligation to participate or assist in the defence of the country in the manner prescribed by Act of Parliament.

As far as possible and unless he himself otherwise desires, a conscript shall be assigned to a unit whose ranks have the same native language as the conscript, either Finnish or Swedish, there to receive instruction in that language. The language of command in the armed forces shall be the Finnish language.

The right to exemption on grounds of conviction from participation in military defence shall be prescribed by Act of Parliament. (17 July 1995/969)

Section 76

If the armed forces are to be mobilised, the mobilisation order shall be issued by the President in the Council of State. When such an order has been issued, the Council of State shall take steps to meet the expenses thereby incurred and Parliament, if not in session, shall be convened.

VIII.Education

Section 77

The right of self-government of the University of Helsinki shall be maintained.

New provisions on the organisational basis of the University shall be prescribed by Act of Parliament, but more detailed provisions on the University shall be issued by Decree, in both cases after the University senate has provided a statement on the matter.

(Sections 78 to 81 were repealed by the Act of 17 July 1995/969)

Section 82

Provisions on the right to establish private schools and other private educational institutions and to organise teaching therein shall be prescribed by Act of Parliament.

Instruction given in a home shall not be subject to official supervision.

IX.Religious Communities

Section 83

Provisions on the organisation and administration of the Evangelical Lutheran church shall be prescribed in the Church Code.

Other existing religious communities shall be governed by the provisions enacted or to be enacted on these communities.

New religious communities may be established in the manner prescribed by Act of Parliament.

X. Public office

Section 84

(28 July 1989/724)

Only a citizen of Finland may be appointed to the offices of Chancellor of Justice or Assistant Chancellor of Justice of the Council of State, or to the office of a judge, of Commander of the Armed Forces or to the office of a member of the board of governors of the Bank of Finland, or may be elected to the office of Parliamentary Ombudsman or Assistant Parliamentary Ombudsman.

The other offices to which only a citizen of Finland may be appointed shall be governed by provisions prescribed by Act of Parliament or by other provisions or stipulations issued under the authorisation of an Act of Parliament.

Section 85

The academic qualifications required for appointment to a State office shall be confirmed by Decree, insofar as these have not been prescribed by Act of Parliament. For special reasons a dispensation from the requirements issued by Decree may be granted by the Council of State, except in the case of appointment to a judicial office.

Section 86

The general grounds for promotion in State offices shall be skill, ability and proven civic merit.

Section 87

The President shall appoint:

1)the Chancellor of Justice and the Assistant Chancellor of Justice;

2)the Archbishop and the Bishops as well as the Chancellor of the University;

3)the Presidents of the Supreme Court and the Supreme Administrative Court and, upon nomination by the Supreme Court, the Justices of the Supreme Court and the Presidents of the Courts of Appeal and, upon nomination by the Supreme Administrative Court, the Justices of that Court;

4)the Justices of the Courts of Appeal as well as the Professors of the University and the University of Technology;

5)the directors general of the central State agencies and the provincial governors, upon nomination by the Council of State, as well as the other senior civil servants of the central State agencies pursuant to specific provisions prescribed on these appointments by Act of Parliament or by Decree; (20 April 1990/343)

6)the head and the presenting officials in the Office of the President of the Republic and, upon nomination by the competent authority, the presenting officials in the Council of State, the Supreme Court and the Supreme Administrative Court. (23 December 1987/1098)

(Sub-paragraph 7 was repealed by the Act of 10 December 1993/1119)

Section 88

(Paragraph 1 was repealed by the Act of 10 July 1987/637 which according to the Act of 18 December 1992/1417 entered into force on 1 December 1993)

Pursuant to the provisions on these appointments, the following specific official appointments shall be made by the authorities specified:

1)judicial offices by the Supreme Court or the higher court to which the office is subordinate, and offices in the Supreme Administrative Court by that court; as well as

2)offices in administration and educational institutions by the Council of State, the Minister, the provincial administrative board or the governing board of the agency to which the office is subordinate.

Other State officials shall be appointed by the Council of State unless the right of appointment has been reserved for the President or assigned to another authority.

Section 89

(24 October 1986/754)

Appointments to the offices of Appeal Court Justice, of Law Counsellor or Judge in a District Court and of Professor in an institution of higher education shall, unless otherwise prescribed in section 90 and after being declared open for application, be made from the three applicants nominated by the authority where the vacancy has arisen as most deserving according to established standards. The Supreme Court shall make a statement regarding nominations for the office of Appeal Court Justice and of Law Counsellor or Judge in a District Court. (10 July 1987/637)

Provisions regarding appointments to offices other than those referred to in paragraph 1 shall be prescribed separately by Act of Parliament or by Decree.

Section 90

(30 June 1947/539)

Special provisions shall govern appointment procedures to public offices in institutions of higher education, the Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Greek Orthodox Church as well as to public offices in the Bank of Finland. (18 December 1992/1418)

The officers of the army and the navy shall be appointed by the President. Separate provisions shall be prescribed regarding promotion in military rank and military training.

Section 91

All judges shall have the right not to be removed from office except on the basis of lawful trial and judgment; nor may they be transferred to another office without their consent except when the transfer is due to a reorganisation of the judicial system.

Provisions on the obligation of a judge to retire from office on reaching a certain age or suffering loss of working capacity may be prescribed by Act of Parliament. (24 October 1986/754)

Separate provisions on the right of other officials to remain in office and on the bases of the conditions of service of judges and other civil servants shall be otherwise prescribed by Act of Parliament. (24 October 1986/754)

(Paragraph 4 was repealed by the Act of 24 October 1986/754.)

Section 92

Under threat of sanction there shall be strict compliance with the law in all official functions.

If a provision in a Decree conflicts with a Constitutional Act or another Act of Parliament, a judge or other official shall not apply it.

Section 93

A civil servant shall be responsible for any measures which he has undertaken or which he has supported as a member of a collegiate office. A presenting official shall likewise be accountable for any decision made upon his presentation unless he has stated a dissenting opinion for inclusion in the minutes.

In the manner prescribed by Act of Parliament, anyone who has suffered a loss of rights or damage due to the unlawful act or omission of an official shall have the right to demand that the official be sentenced to a punishment and ordered to compensate the damage, or the right to report the offence for the initiation of charges.

Specific provisions shall govern whether and to what extent the State is responsible for damage caused by an official.

XI.Concluding provisions

Section 94

The first presidential election shall be carried out by Parliament, and the election shall take place immediately upon the entry into force of this Constitution Act. If, in the election by secret ballot, any candidate receives more than half of the votes cast, he shall be declared elected. Otherwise another election shall be carried out immediately and, if nevertheless no candidate receives an absolute majority, a further election shall be carried out between the two candidates who received the greatest number of votes in the second election. Should the votes be divided equally, the election shall be decided by the drawing of lots.

Section 95

This Constitution Act shall be in all respects an irrevocable Constitutional Act of Parliament, and it may not be amended, expounded or repealed, nor may exceptions to it be made, except according to the prescribed procedure for Constitutional Acts in general.

The Constitution of 21 August 1772 and the Deed of Association and Security of 21 February and 3 March 1789, as well as all provisions in other Acts of Parliament and Decrees which in conflict with this Constitution Act are hereby repealed.

The provisions necessary for the implementation of this Constitution Act shall be enacted by Act of Parliament.

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