Overview and context
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Finland is a parliamentary democracy where executive power is exercised by the president and the council of state (the Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister) which must enjoy the confidence of the Parliament. The President of the Republic is elected for a six-year term. The Prime Minister is elected by the members of the parliament and appointed by the President. Independent courts, the Supreme Court and the Supreme Administrative Court exercise judicial powers.
The Parliament is unicameral and consists of two hundred Members of Parliament (MPs). MPs are elected in direct, proportional and secret ballot for a term of four years. The last general election was held in April 2015. The next is expected to take place in 2019. Parliament enacts all legislation, approves the state budget, ratifies international treaties and oversees the Government. Legislation is enacted according to the Constitution and the procedure of the Parliament.
Government bills or Members’ initiatives begin with a preliminary debate in the plenary session, after which the bill is submitted to a committee. Following the committee process, a bill returns to the plenary session where it is dealt with in two readings. In the first reading the content of the bill is decided section by section. In the second reading the bill is either approved or rejected. Once the President ratifies it, an Act is published in the Statutes of Finland.