Finland Political System

According to, with capital city of Helsinki, Finland is a country located in Northern Europe with total population of 5,540,731.

Where is Finland

State and politics


The Constitution, which came into force on March 1, 2000 and replaced the form of government in 1919, states that state power “belongs to the people represented by the Riksdag”. The Riksdag has 200 members. Already when the Fourth Kingdom Day was abolished, single-chamber systems were implemented for the first general election in 1907. At the same time, it was decided as the first country in Europe to introduce voting rights for women as well. Parliament is elected for four years (1907–54, the term of office was only three years) with proportional elections (according to d’Hondt’s method, which favors large parties). Voters decide which candidates will enter the Riksdag. Thus, the list selection of the Swedish type does not occur, but the voter himself writes on his election ballot the number of the candidate that he wants to support. The vote is first credited to the party that the candidate represents in the distribution between the parties of the mandate in the constituency. See for vocational training in Finland.

Until the beginning of the 1990s, the form of government contained provisions that gave minorities in the Riksdag a significant influence. These demands for qualified majorities contributed to the pattern characteristic of Finland with broad coalition governments. Coalitions, mainly between the Center and the Social Democrats but also between the Assembly Party and one of these two parties, have been necessary since no single party had a strength comparable to that which enabled the Swedish or Norwegian Social Democrats to form one-party governments.

The president of Finland is not elected by Parliament but has his own mandate from the people. The president is elected for a six-year term through a direct popular election in two rounds. In the second round, only the two candidates who received the most votes will participate in the first round. The president can only be re-elected once; his maximum term in office is thus twelve years. The president’s powers, which were previously widespread, were significantly reduced in the 1999 constitution. While he was able to successfully assert his will against the government’s majority when a decision was made in the Cabinet (the government’s plenary session), the government now has the decisive power with regard to bills to Parliament. The President retains a considerable nomination power (including the highest civil servants and ambassadors) and an independent right of pardon. His independent right of proposition, however, disappears, likewise in practice his right of veto with regard to legislation. With regard to parliamentary dissolution and the announcement of new elections, the initiative has been with the Prime Minister since 1991; before that, the president had the decisive power in this matter as well.

Several former presidents, especially Urho Kekkonen (1956–81), exerted a significant influence on the election of prime minister and other members of government. The new constitution makes the Riksdag’s role central to government formation, while the president retains only a formal appointment. During the Cold War, the President, in charge of Finland’s foreign policy, had a widely acknowledged task of safeguarding the country’s good relations with the Soviet Union. His role as guarantor of the continuity of Finland’s foreign policy gave him an elevated position, and he was badly criticized in public.

According to the 1999 Constitution, the President directs Finland’s foreign policy in cooperation with the government. The fact that the president is no longer solely responsible for foreign policy means in practice that this sector also becomes part of the normal parliamentary process. The role of the government is particularly emphasized by the fact that the Constitution explicitly places national preparation of EU issues in its hands. The changes codified in the 1999 Constitution together result in a political system shift in Finland. A semi-presidential system is replaced by a largely regular parliamentary democracy. However, the fact that the president is still elected by direct direct elections despite his severely limited powers means a departure from the principle of parliamentary sovereignty.

In early 2011, the Riksdag passed a law that introduced minor amendments to the 1999 Constitution. Among other things, it provides for the introduction of a new decision-making mechanism to resolve any disputes between the president and the government in the foreign policy field. Under the new decision-making mechanism, these disputes will ultimately be settled in Parliament’s plenary. The new parliament elected in April 2011 also approved the constitutional amendments and the new law came into force in 2012.

Political parties

Partying differs from the pattern of Finland’s Nordic neighbors in important respects. The Communist Party of Finland, founded in Moscow in August 1918 after the defeat of the Reds in the 1918 civil war, was for a long time significantly stronger than in neighboring countries. The party was banned from 1930 to 44. After the ceasefire agreement with the Soviet Union, the party began to appear in elections within the framework of the People’s Democrats (really the Democratic Alliance of Finland’s People, Dfff). The People’s Democrats got the most over 20 percent of the vote. However, the organization broke down due to internal disagreement and in the late 1980s went to elections as two separate parties. By a decision in 1990, both parties were dissolved to make way for the newly formed Left federation. During the 2000s, it received 7-10 percent of the vote in parliamentary elections.

Finland’s Social Democratic Party, which was founded in 1903, won a very large voter share in the 1907-17 elections. When Finland became independent in December 1917, however, the party lost its chance to dominate its country’s politics as its Scandinavian fraternity parties managed to do. The main part of the party was committed to the attempted revolution in January 1918. After the defeat in the civil war that followed, the party weakened for a long time, partly because of the great communist outbreak and partly because the strong distrust of the party persisted in a civil way. Although the party gathered 34–39 percent of voters in several elections, it was quite isolated until 1937, when it entered the government. After 1944, for a long time, the party usually gathered about 1/4 of the voters. Since 2011, voter support has been below 20 percent. The president of the republic was never a social democrat before the 1982 electionMauno Koivisto.

The Center in Finland (before 1965 The Agrarian Association, 1965–88 Center Party), founded in 1908 to safeguard the interests of the Finnish-speaking peasant population, has generally been significantly stronger in the electorate than its Swedish counterpart; the party has usually collected 21-25 percent of the votes (at most 27 percent in the 1930 election). The center has a significantly stronger organization and higher membership than any other party. Representatives of the party held the presidential post 1925–31 and 1937–40, and during Urho Kekkonen ’s 1956–81 presidential term, the party came to clearly dominate Finnish politics.

The Swedish People’s Party in Finland, founded in 1906, has as its main goal to represent the interests of the Swedish-speaking population and has generally gathered about 80 percent of Finnish-Swedish voters behind their bourgeois liberal policies. The party’s share of the entire electorate has decreased in line with the Finnish Swedes. However, with 4-5% of voters since the 1960s, the party has secured a not insignificant parliamentary influence and has given the Finnish party system a language and nationality dimension that has no equivalent in the other Nordic countries.

Among the Finnish speakers, the liberal parties, especially during the post-war period, have been considerably weaker than in neighboring countries. The Liberal People’s Party, founded in 1965, lost all political significance after the 1979 parliamentary elections, when it won only four seats and found it too good to be a member of the Center Party in 1982.

The Collecting Party was founded in 1918 to pass on the conservative legacy of the Old Finnish party and the legacy of the white side during the civil war. Until 1944, the party had a significantly stronger influence than the other right-wing parties in the Nordic countries. Thus, it occupied the presidential post 1931–37 and the prime ministerial post 1941–44. However, the voter share never reached up to 20 percent. The party was also subjected to much stronger competition from the far right than its Nordic fraternity parties, mainly from the Peoples’ Movement (after the abbreviation of the Finnish name form, Isänmaallinen Kansanliike, often called IKL). IKL, which took part in the 1933–39 elections, conquered at most 14 seats against the Collective Party 18 (1933). During the post-war period, the Collective Party was mostly in opposition, gathering about 15 percent of voters, but the proportion increased towards the end of the 1970s. Since the 1980s, the party has received about 20 percent of the vote in elections and has been a member of most governments.

Finland also has a Christian party, the Christian Democrats in Finland (before 2001 Finland’s Christian Confederation), which has been represented in the Riksdag since 1970 and usually collected 3-5% of the votes in the parliamentary elections, as well as an environmental party, the Green League, which entered the Riksdag in 1987. After the 1995 parliamentary elections, in which the party received almost 7 percent of the vote, the Green Union joined the government as the first green party in Western Europe. During the 2000s, the Greens usually received about 8 percent of the vote, but in 2019 increased to 11.5 percent.


The president’s view of a suitable government base was often decisive in the past. By having the power to appoint a prime minister, he was able to decide which coalition opportunity should be tried in the first place. Since the president lost the role of government in the formation of the government in the 1999 constitution, the outcome of the election in combination with the parties’ interrelationships can now be said to be decisive in the formation of government. Finally, one or more smaller parties, among them usually the Swedish People’s Party, have almost always been represented in the government, regardless of how the main coalition was composed.

Regarding the formation of the government, three periods can be distinguished, which are characterized by different main patterns. The first, 1919–37, was characterized by the Social Democrats being kept outside and the middle parties and the right interchanging in different combinations.

The second period, 1937–87, was characterized mainly by coalition governments between the Agrarian Association – the Center Party and the Social Democrats (“red mill governments”). However, during the Second World War, the Collective Party and 1945-48 also the Communists participated in these governments. Other deviations from the main pattern were that the Social Democrats were held by President Kekkonen outside the government in 1959-66 which disqualified with regard to relations with the Soviet Union and that the Communist Party, as a rule, was allowed to participate as a third party in the red mill governments in 1966-82. It should also be noted that throughout the course of this fifty-year period, the Center and the Social Democrats vigorously fought each other in the competition for first place in Finnish politics. However, the reluctant and conflicting co-government between these two “middle parties” was usually inevitable,

The third period, which began after the 1987 parliamentary elections, is characterized by the Collective Party becoming an equal party in the game of government power while the Communist Party was definitely shot in the background. The Social Democrats and the Socialist Party formed a “red-blue” coalition, while the Center ended in opposition. After a great election success for the Center in 1991, a bourgeois majority government was formed, with the Center and the Collective Party as the largest parties. After the 1995 and 1999 elections, broad majority coalitions were formed with the Social Democrats and the Socialist Party as the dominant parties.

After the 2003 elections, a center-left government took over with the Center and the Social Democrats as the largest parties. In the 2007 election, the Social Democrats lost voters and the Samling Party went ahead. A bourgeois majority government, which also includes the Greens, was formed after the election. The populist party The true Finns, heirs to the Finnish Rural Party (FLP), were among the biggest victors in the 2007 elections.

The parliamentary elections in April 2011 actually had only one winner, the True Finns, while all other parties backed to varying degrees. Despite losing 6 seats, the Party for the first time was the largest in Parliament. The election’s by far the biggest loser became the Center in Finland, which received 35 seats, 16 fewer than in the previous election.

After two months of government negotiations, a six-party majority coalition was formed under the leadership of the Socialist Party’s Jyrki Katainen. The government included the Socialist Party, the Social Democrats, the Green League, the Left League, the Swedish People’s Party and the Christian Democrats while only two parties, the Center and the True Finns, were in opposition. The strong EU-critical positions of the true Finns were the biggest reason why the party, despite its large electoral victory, did not become a government party.

In March 2014, the Left Federation left the government in protest of cuts in welfare, and two months later Katainen resigned as prime minister and party leader to take a seat on the European Commission instead. He was succeeded in both positions by Alexander Stubb.

In the 2015 parliamentary elections, the Center resumed its position as the country’s largest party. The Social Democrats made one of their worst parliamentary elections and even the Socialist Party backed down while the True Finns managed to retain their positions from the 2011 election election. The party lost only one mandate and became the second largest party.

The purely bourgeois government with the Center’s Juha Sipilä as prime minister was special in two respects. First, it consisted of only three lots, fewer than normal. Secondly, this was the first time the true Finns were given government responsibility; among other things, the party held the posts of foreign and defense minister.

In the summer of 2017, the country experienced a government crisis, which is very unusual in Finland. The reason was that the True Finns at their party congress elected EU parliamentarian Jussi Halla-aho (born 1971) as new chairman after Timo Soini. Halla-aho has been convicted of hate against ethnic groups and is clearly more critical of immigration and the EU than Soini.

The Center and the Collective Party felt that they could not co-operate with the new Finnish party leadership. However, on the same day that Sipilä would submit his government’s resignation application, the True Finns were divided and about half of the party’s parliament members formed a new group called New Alternative (later the Blue Future Party). Among the defectors were all Finnish Ministers, including Foreign Minister Timo Soini. Other government parties considered that they could co-operate with the breaker group. The government’s parliamentary base became narrower, but it retained by a marginal margin its status as a majority government.

Just over a month before the 2019 elections, the Sipilä government resigned after failing to pass comprehensive social and health care reform. However, Sipilä and the other ministers remained in a transitional government until the election. In this, three parties were basically equal: the Social Democrats, the True Finns and the Collective Party. The center backed sharply while both the Left Union and the Greens strengthened their positions. Blue future received only 1 percent of the vote. At the beginning of June, it was clear that Social Democrats Antti Rinne would form a center-left government together with the Center, the Greens, the Swedish People’s Party and the Left Federation. Rinne resigned from the Prime Minister’s post in December 2019 after the Center declared that the party had no confidence in him; he was succeeded by the party mateSanna Marin, who became Finland’s youngest head of government to date.

The President of Finland has been Sauli Niinistö since 2012. He was re-elected to the post in the 2018 presidential election and can thus remain as president until 2024.

Results in parliamentary elections

Voting and mandate distribution in parliamentary elections in the 2000s

2003 2007 2011 2015 2019
The Social Democrats 24.5 (53) 21.4 (45) 19.1 (42) 16.5 (34) 17.7 (40)
The Center 24.7 (55) 23.1 (51) 15.8 (35) 21.1 (49) 13.8 (31)
Coalition 18.6 (40) 22.3 (50) 20.4 (44) 18.2 (37) 17.0 (38)
The Swedish People’s Party 4.6 (8) 4.6 (9) 4.3 (9) 4.9 (9) 4.5 (9)
The Christian Democrats 5.3 (7) 4.9 (7) 4.0 (6) 3.5 (5) 3.9 (5)
Åland collection 0.2 (1) 0.5 (1) 0.3 (1) 0.4 (1) 0.4 (1)
The green ones 8.0 (14) 8.5 (15) 7.3 (10) 8.5 (15) 11.5 (20)
left Alliance 9.9 (19) 8.8 (17) 8.1 (14) 7.1 (12) 8.2 (16)
true Finns 1.6 (3) 4.1 (5) 19.1 (39) 17.6 (38) 17.5 (39)
Movement now 2.3 (1)

Administration and municipalities

Finland was previously divided into counties. The county division originated in the 1634 division of Sweden (including Finland) and was reformed on several occasions. However, as part of a new management model, all counties were demolished at the start of 2010. However, the new regional division with six regional administrations is very similar to the previous division into counties.

Municipal self-government is strong and even constitutionally protected. The number of municipalities is 336 (June 2011). The highest municipal decision-making authority has a municipal council, which is elected for a term of four years. The highest executive body is the municipal council. The municipalities’ data are very similar to what applies to their Swedish counterparts. In addition, through their collaborative bodies, municipal associations, they are responsible for health care.

At the beginning of 2010, a total reform of the state’s regional administration was implemented. The previous most central tasks for the regional government authorities were concentrated and reorganized into two new regional government agencies: the regional administration (six government agencies) and the business, traffic and environmental centers (fifteen centers). The reform included that the county administrative boards were abolished as independent authorities and that the country governor positions were abolished. In practice, the 2010 reform did not mean a major change in regional governance in Finland.

The landscape of Åland occupies a special position and has enjoyed extensive self-government since 1920. The legislature is the highest decision-making body, is elected for a term of four years and appoints a government, the Landscape Board. Åland also has a state county administration. At the beginning of 2010, the State Office was established in Åland as a state regional administrative agency that took over the County Administrative Board’s operations. The Government Office in Åland is subject to the Ministry of Finance. The Office is headed by the Governor of Åland, who is appointed by the President of Finland upon agreement with the President of the Lay. The landscape of Åland, which is represented in the Nordic Council, has since 1954 its own flag and since 1984 has issued its own stamps.

In 2009, the number of municipalities was significantly reduced as a result of extensive municipal and service structural reform. Through 32 municipal mergers, the number of municipalities decreased by 67. The purpose of the reform was to create sufficiently large and actionable municipalities that can, in the long term, secure municipal access, quality and productivity. Since 2007, a total of 57 municipal mergers have taken place, which in June 2011 had reduced the number of municipalities by 105.


The Swedish law codification from 1734 is in some parts still in force. During the Russian era, legislative work was largely down, but then intensive legislative work has taken place. Laws are passed by Parliament and enacted by the President.

The judiciary is divided into public courts and administrative courts. The general courts handle litigation and criminal cases. They are in the first instance district courts (before 1993 district courts and district courts), in the second instance court courts and in the last instance the Supreme Court (HD).

In 1993, the process rules were also modernized. In the district courts, the procedure is oral, while in the courts and in HD it has been almost invariably written; after the 1990s process reforms, the oral service has been strengthened. In 1998, the Prosecutor’s Office was reorganized, and a newly established function such as the Prosecutor’s Office has taken over the prosecutor duties that were formerly held by the Prosecutor’s Office.

Public law cases are not handled by the public courts. In the first instance, they are decided by ordinary administrative authorities, but can be appealed to administrative courts and, ultimately, the Supreme Administrative Court (HFD). Decision of eg central government offices are appealed directly to the HFD. The decisions of the Cabinet and the ministries can also be appealed to the HFD on a legal basis. In addition to the said courts there are a number of special courts, e.g. Industrial Court.

In all the courts, legally trained judges have the main responsibility, but in the district courts and in some special courts the layman’s impact is strong. The courts judge mainly with the support of the provisions of the written law. Published rulings by the supreme courts de facto receive the status of precedents, even though they are not legally binding. HD has been made a strict precedent court by strict restrictions on the target inflow, while HFD does not essentially have this character.

The death penalty for crimes committed during peacetime was abolished in 1949. For some serious crimes committed during wartime or war-like conditions, the death penalty remained until 1972. The last execution took place in 1944.

Heads of State after 1809

great Princes
1809-25 Alexander I
1825-55 Nicholas I
1855-81 Alexander II
1881-94 Alexander III
1894-1917 Nicholas II
1917-18 PE Pig Head
1918-19 Gustaf Mannerheim
1919-25 KJ Ståhlberg
1925-31 LK Relander
1931-37 PE Pig Head
1937-40 Kyösti Kallio
1940-44 Risto Ryti
1944-46 Gustaf Mannerheim
1946-56 Juho Paasikivi
1956-81 Urho Kekkonen
1982-94 Mauno Koivisto
1994-2000 Martti Ahtisaari
2000-2012 Tarja Halonen
2012- Sauli Niinistö

Prime Ministers and Governments

1917-18 PE Pig Head (Ungfi, FiP, Agr, Sfp)
1918 JK Paasikivi (FiP, Ungfi, Agr, Sfp)
1918-19 Lauri Ingman (Sml, Nfp, Sfp)
1919 Kaarlo Castrén (Nfp, Agr, Sfp)
1919-20 Juho Vennola (Nfp, Agr)
1920-21 Rafael Erich (Sml, Nfp, Agr, Sfp)
1921-22 Juho Vennola (Nfp, Agr)
1922 AK Cajander (Minister of Trade and Industry)
1922-24 Kyösti Kallio (Agr, Nfp, Sml)
1924 AK Cajander (Minister of Trade and Industry)
1924-25 Lauri Ingman (Sml, Agr, Sfp, Nfp)
1925 Antti Tulenheimo (Sml, Agr, Nfp)
1925-26 Kyösti Kallio (Agr, Sml)
1926-27 Väinö Tanner (Sd)
1927-28 JE Sunila (Agr)
1928-29 Oscar Mantere (Nfp, Sml)
1929-30 Kyösti Kallio (Agr, Nfp)
1930-31 PE Pig Head (Sml, Agr, Sfp, Nfp)
1931-32 JE Sunila (Agr, Sml, Nfp, Sfp)
1932-36 Toivo Kivimäki (Nfp, Sml, Sfp, Agr)
1936-37 Kyösti Kallio (Agr, Nfp, Sml)
1937-39 AK Cajander (Nfp, Sd, Agr)
1939-40 Risto Ryti (Nfp, Agr, Sd, Sfp)
1940-41 Risto Ryti (Nfp, Agr, Sd, Sfp, Sml)
1941-43 JW Rangell (Nfp, Agr, Sd, Sml, Sfp, IKL)
1943-44 Edwin Linkomies (Sml, Sd, Agr, Sfp, Nfp)
1944 Antti Hackzell (Sml, Sd, Agr, Sfp, Nfp)
1944 Urho Castrén (Sml, Sd, Agr, Nfp, Sfp)
1944-46 Juho Paasikivi (Sml, Agr, Sd, Dfff, Sfp, Nfp)
1946-48 Mauno Pekkala (Dfff, Agr, Sd, Sfp)
1948-50 KA. Fagerholm (Sd)
1950-51 Urho Kekkonen (Agr, Sfp, Nfp)
1951 Urho Kekkonen (Agr, Sd, Sfp, Nfp)
1951-53 Urho Kekkonen (Agr, Sd, Sfp, Nfp)
1953 Urho Kekkonen (Agr, Sfp)
1953-54 Sakari Tuomioja (Ffp, Sml, Sfp)
1954 Ralf Törngren (Sfp, Agr, Sd)
1954-56 Urho Kekkonen (Agr, Sd)
1956-57 KA. Fagerholm (Sd, Agr, Sfp, Ffp)
1957 VJ Sukselainen (Agr, Ffp, Sfp)
1957-58 Rainer von Fieandt (Minister of Trade and Industry)
1958 Reino Kuuskoski (Minister of Trade and Industry)
1958-59 KA. Fagerholm (Sd, Agr, Sml, Ffp, Sfp, Nfp)
1959-61 VJ Sukselainen (Agr)
1961-62 Martti Miettunen (Agr)
1962-63 Ahti Karjalainen (Agr, Sml, Ffp, Sfp)
1963-64 Reino Lehto (Minister of Trade and Industry)
1964-66 Johannes Virolainen (Agr, Sml, Ffp, Sfp)
1966-68 Rafael Paasio (Sd, C, Dfff, ASSF)
1968-70 Mauno Koivisto (Sd, C, Dfff, ASSF, Sfp)
1970 Teuvo Aura (Ministry of Expedition)
1970-71 Ahti Karjalainen (C, Sd, Dfff, Sfp, L)
1971-72 Teuvo Aura (Ministry of Expedition)
1972 Rafael Paasio (Sd)
1972-75 Kalevi Sorsa (Sd, C, Sfp, L)
1975 Keijo Liinamaa (Minister of Trade and Industry)
1975-76 Martti Miettunen (C, Sd, Dfff, Sfp, L)
1976-77 Martti Miettunen (C, Sfp, L)
1977-79 Kalevi Sorsa (Sd, C, Dfff, L, Sfp)
1979-82 Mauno Koivisto (Sd, C, Dfff, Sfp)
1982-83 Kalevi Sorsa (Sd, C, Dfff, Sfp)
1983-87 Kalevi Sorsa (Sd, C, Sfp, Lp)
1987-91 Harri Holkeri (Sml, Sd, Sfp, Lp)
1991-95 Esko Aho (C, Sml, Sfp, Kd)
1995-2003 Paavo Lipponen (Sd, Sml, Sfp, V, The Greens)
2003 Anneli Jäätteenmäki (C, Sd, Sfp)
2003-07 Matti Vanhanen (C, Sd, Sfp)
2007-10 Matti Vanhanen (C, Sml, Sfp, The Greens)
2010-11 Mari Kiviniemi (C, Sml, Sfp, The Greens)
2011-14 Jyrki Katainen (Sml, The Greens, Sd, Sfp, Kd, V)
2014-15 Alexander Stubb (Sml, The Greens, Sd, Sfp, Kd)
2015-19 Juha Sipilä (C, Saml, True)
2019 Antti Rinne (Sd, C, The Greens, Sfp, V)
2019- Sanna Marin (Sd, C, The Greens, Sfp, V)

(The governments are stated according to the composition at the appointment; the Prime Minister’s party is stated first.)

Agr = Agrarförbundet
ASSF = Social Democratic Alliance of Workers and Smallholders
C = Center in Finland
Dfff = Democratic League for the People of Finland
Ffp = Finnish People’s Party
FiP = Finnish Party (Old Finns)
IKL = Isänmaallinen kansanliike (Flanders Movement)
Kd = Christian Association of Finland
L = Liberal People’s Party
Lp = Finland’s Rural Party
Nfp = National Progress Party
True = True Finns
Sd = Finland’s Social Democratic Party
Sfp = Swedish People’s Party
Sml = Collection Party
Ungfi = Hungarian Party
V = Left federation