Finland – Presidential vetoes and the presidential election

This post follows on from previous ones about presidential vetoes in Bulgaria, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia.

In Finland, the president has the power of a suspensive veto. Basically, his veto can be overridden by parliament as normal. Interestingly, whereas in the other countries I have posted about the president has been quite active in using the veto, in Finland this is not the case. In fact, since the introduction of the new constitution in 2000 there have been no presidential vetoes.

The fact that there have been no vetoes is all the more interesting because there was a period of cohabitation in Finland from April 2007 to June 2011. This is the time when we would expect vetoes to be used.

In her book, Presidents with Prime Ministers, Margit Tavits provides an explanation (p. 41). She says that the Finnish president has more influence in foreign affairs and that this domain is less susceptible to the use of the veto. So, the absence of a veto is not a sign of inactivity, she argues. It is just that the president is active in a different domain from one that is captured by veto power.

In a separate development, Helsinki Times is reporting that Timo Soini, the leader of the Finns party (previously the True Finns), has declared that he will stand for the presidency next year. The True Finns were very nearly the largest party at the legislative election earlier this year. So, he stands a chance of winning through to the second ballot. However, given Soini is a controversial figure, then his chances of being elected are perhaps small. That said, his presence will mean that campaigning in the election will be robust.

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