Finland Democracy and Rights

Democracy and rights

Abbreviated as FIN, Finland is a rule of law and democracy with strong and independent institutions. Human rights are guaranteed by law and well respected.

The elections in Finland are free and fair. A variety of parties reflect different views and permits for demonstrations are not needed. Civil society organizations can operate freely and associate life is active in relation to the population. Religious freedom prevails and is respected.

Violence against women remains a problem. According to a survey by Amnesty International 2018, every third woman has been abused by her partner and approximately 50,000 Finnish women are subjected to sexual violence annually. Finland has been repeatedly criticized by human rights organizations for not doing enough to prevent violence against women. Despite this, Finland was ranked as the world’s third most equal country in 2018, according to Word Economic Forum. 42 percent of the members of parliament were women in 2017.

Although the tolerance has increased in recent years, negative attitudes may exist to ethnic minorities and LGBTQs. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has established a program for Roma policy in Finland aimed at improving the status of the Roma. But much remains to be done. Among other things, a disproportionately large proportion of Roma children leave school prematurely.

The law prohibits discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. Same-sex couples can enter into marriage, but the church has so far refused to wed same-sex couples.

Finland is the third least corrupt country in the world according to the Transparency International index of expected corruption in 2018.

Freedom of expression and media

Individuals can freely and openly criticize state powers without the risk of reprisals. Freedom of expression is constitutional and the principle of publicity gives the public as well as journalists access to public documents. Finnish media is independent in relation to power, although the market for newspapers is relatively concentrated. Finland ranks second in Reporters Without Borders Index of Press Freedom in the World 2019, shortly after Norway.

The government plans to introduce new intelligence laws that would provide the Finnish security police and military intelligence service with tools to more closely monitor the citizens. In 2018, Parliament decided on an addition to the Constitution, which is a first step to fully implementing the new laws.

Judicial system and legal security

Finland is a well-functioning rule of law. The independence of the courts is guaranteed by the Constitution and the country has a Chancellor of Justice with constitutional protection and independent status. The Chancellor of Justice monitors that the authorities comply with applicable law. Human rights are generally respected and discrimination based on gender or ethnic origin is prohibited by law.

Finland is ranked 4 out of 126 in the World Justice Project index of the rule of law in 2019. The criticism, after all, is directed at Finland regarding the rule of law is mainly about the length of trials. Criticism has also been raised against the fact that unaccompanied children over the age of 15 can be held in detention for long periods of time pending rejection, sometimes together with adults and convicted criminals.

The age of punishment is 15 years, but lesser penalties of four months up to one year occur for persons under 18 years.

Finland’s gun laws have been among the most liberal in the world. The laws came into question after several shooting dramas with many casualties in schools, among others. At the end of the first decade of the 2000s, there were approximately 1.6 million registered firearms and citizens were able to purchase weapons from the age of 15, including automatic weapons. The gun laws were tightened in 2011 and now the age limit for weapons licenses is 18 years and for firearms 20 years.

Finland Crime Rate & Statistics



Reforms for cheaper healthcare

After three years of economic decline, the government decides to reform the healthcare system to reduce costs. The country’s aging population has caused health care costs to skyrocket. The decision causes a government crisis as the different coalition parties view the issue differently, but the crisis is averted at the last moment.


Finland tightens asylum requirements

The reason for the stricter requirements is according to the Finnish Migration Agency that several areas in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia are now safe. The asylum examination must now be done based on the individual’s situation, and not only on the basis of the refugee area. Around 70 percent of the refugees who arrived in the country in the autumn are from Iraq.


Popular protests against asylum seekers

Immigration-critical people are protesting against the sharply increased number of asylum seekers coming to the city of Torne√• in the north. The protesters form a “human wall” to stop the refugees from moving from Haparanda in Sweden to Finnish Tornio. They urge the refugees to stay away. On a single day in September, 800 refugees cross the border from Sweden – the highest figure since the Russian Revolution.

Protests against the cuts

About 30,000 people walk the streets of Helsinki in protest demonstrations against cuts in state spending. A strike is announced that causes disruptions in public communications. Both bus, air and train traffic are affected by many canceled departures, and post and port services are adversely affected.

Impaired working conditions

As a consequence of the country’s economy shrinking three years in a row, the government makes several restrictions on the working conditions for employees. Government employees may reduce the number of vacation days from 38 to 30. The overtime allowance is halved and the remuneration for working on Sundays is reduced from 100 to 75 percent. A waiting day for illness is introduced. The government’s goal is to reduce the state’s labor costs by 5 percent.


Yes to rescue packages to Greece

Finland, after hard negotiations, approves a third rescue package for Greece.


Manifestation for a multicultural Finland

More than 10,000 people gather on the streets of Helsinki in a manifestation for a multicultural society. The manifestation is organized in response to controversial statements against multiculturalism recently made by a parliamentary member from the true Finns.

Finnish yes to loan negotiations to Greece

Finland is one of the countries in the euro zone that sets the most stringent requirements for the crisis-hit Greece (see Greece, calendar) to obtain new loans and thus be saved in foreign exchange cooperation. However, the Riksdag votes to allow the so-called troika, the EU, the IMF and the ECB, to start negotiations on a third rescue package for Greece.


A completely bourgeois government is formed

Center leader Juha Sipil√§ presents a completely bourgeois government that includes the Center, the Collecting Party and the True Finns. Both the Center and the True Finns have an EU-skeptical attitude and both parties have expressed dissatisfaction with the deteriorating relations with Russia and with the EU sanctions against the neighboring country. The government consists of 14 ministers. The true Finns’ leader Timo Soini is appointed Foreign Minister and EU Minister, while Alexander Stubb, former Prime Minister of the Socialist Party, becomes Finance Minister.


Sink bombs against unknown object

The Finnish Navy detects an unidentified object under the surface of water in Finnish territorial waters. Sink bombs are dropped to alert the intruder, but not for the purpose of hitting the object, which is suspected to be a submarine from foreign power.

The center will be much smaller

In the parliamentary elections, the Center receives 49 seats, an increase of 5 seats since the 2011 election. The fourth largest party will be the Social Democrats with 34 seats. The remaining mandate is distributed between the Greens (15 seats), the Left League (12), the Swedish People’s Party (9) and the Christian Democrats (5). The turnout is 67 percent.

Sharp criticism of the government

A week before Election Day, the Helsinki Sanomat newspaper publishes a survey in which only 11 percent of those surveyed think the sitting government has done a good or very good job during the term of office. 61 percent think it has done a bad or very bad job. In a similar survey in 2012, 12 percent thought the government was doing a bad or very bad job. The declining popularity is attributed to analysts’ serious problems for the Finnish economy over the past three years, partly due to Nokia’s decline and difficulties for the important pulp industry. Reduced exports to Russia as a result of Russian trade sanctions against the EU have also hit Finland hard.

Stubb: “A traumatic experience”

In an interview for the Financial Times, Prime Minister Stubb describes government cooperation as “a traumatic experience” and adds that no “team game” existed. The statements are seen as a position for the parliamentary elections on April 19. The party has backed the polls since Stubb’s entry in June 2014. The center is best placed in the polls before the election. The electoral movement is mainly about the weak Finnish economy as well as defense issues.


In-depth defense cooperation with Sweden

Finland’s Defense Minister Carl Haglund, together with his Swedish colleague Peter Hultqvist, announces that the two neighboring countries will deepen defense cooperation. This includes increased exchange of information on air and sea conditions in the Baltic Sea as well as opportunities to use each other’s air and naval bases, as well as extended exercises with flights over the Northern Calotte. In addition, Finland will amend the law so that it can assist Sweden in submarine hunting when the neighboring country so requests. Defense cooperation must be further deepened by applying also in crisis situations, such as a state of war, and not just in peacetime. The decision calls for legislative changes in both countries.