Finland is a ‘semi-presidential’ political system, meaning it has both a Prime Minister and a President. Elections are held for both of these positions every 4 and 6 years (respectively). Finland also has elections for both Local Councils and the European Parliament. In these two elections it is possible for foreign citizens to vote, provided they are permanent residents of the area (local elections) or EU citizens (EU elections).
Parliament and the Prime Minister
The Prime Minister is the head of the Government of Finland. The Prime Minister typically comes from the largest party based on seats in the Parliament (Eduskunta). The political system in Finland typically results in two or more parties having to cooperate to form a coalition Government. Today we have a coalition government with three parties; The Center Party, The True Finns and the National Coalition Party (Kokoomus). We, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) with the Greens (Vihreät), The Left Wing Alliance, the Swedish People´s Party (SFP) and the Christian Democrats (Kristillisdemokraatit) are in opposition.
The President is elected directly for a six-year term. Political parties traditionally nominate a candidate, but the President conducts the position on behalf of all of Finland, and not party interests. The President serves as head of state, representing Finland in important national and international ceremonies and events. The main duties of the President are mostly limited to foreign policy and the armed forces, of which the President is Commander-in-Chief.
The Constitution of Finland
The Constitution is the highest source of law in Finland, defining the systems of Government, and the basic rights of Finnish citizens. The current Constitution came into force on 1 March 2000. Translations can be found at the Ministry of Justice website.
Finland is separated into 342 municipal areas, each of which are governed by local Councils. Municipalities are responsible for many local services and receive funds from the Government and via local taxation. The next council elections will be held in 2016.