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Local Government in Finland.

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Presentation on theme: "Local Government in Finland."— Presentation transcript:

1 Local Government in Finland

2 INTRODUCTION A member-state of the European Union since 1995
A sovereign republic with one autonomous province A bilingual country (Finnish and Swedish) Its capital city: Helsinki A directly elected President for a 6 year-term who is allowed to stand for only two consecutive elections. The 200 members of the unicameral Parliament of Finland are elected for 4 years. 2

3 Central Government Organization
Legislative power represented by Parliament Government’s main responsibilities: - Justice - Foreign policy - National defense - Finance Some ministries, especially the Ministry of the Interior have direct relationships with local authorities Central government has an advising power on local authorities 3

4 Central Government local and regional offices
New administrative units since 1997 - 6 provinces (Läänit) - 90 districts (Kihlakunta) Each province is run by a governor (Maaherra) as an executive authority who is appointed at the head of the Provincial Office by the President of the Republic on the recommendation of the Cabinet for an 8 year-term maximum The provincial authority represents 7 ministries and is in charge of: Social services and health care Education and culture Police administration Rescue services Road traffic management Competition and consumers affairs Justice administration 4

5 Local Government Organization
Local government as a one-tier system Municipalities are at the basis of the Finnish local government system Each municipality belongs to one of 19 ‘Regional Councils’ ‘Regions’ are joint statutory bodies that are controlled by their member-municipalities. These intra-communal bodies are not self-government authorities The autonomous Region of the Åland Islands is a different region with a special status 5

6 The special status of the Åland Islands
The autonomous status of the islands was established by the 1920 Act of Parliament on the Autonomy of Åland and affirmed by the League of the Nations in 1921 following the Åland crisis. The extensive autonomy was later replaced by new legislation by the same name in 1951 and 1991 and reaffirmed within the treaty admitting Finland to the European Union. The Regional Parliament of Åland exercises legislative power: - it is responsible for all regional affairs - it has a treaty-making power All political and administrative bodies are directly elected 6

7 A one-tier local government system
416 municipalities with an average population of inhabitants - Velkua is the smallest municipality (only 259 inhabitants) - Helsinki is the largest municipality ( inhabitants in 2009) 25% of municipality expenditures come from the 350 smallest municipalities 7

8 Local government principles and legal basis
The 1999 Constitution (section 121): - Finland is divided into municipalities, whose administration shall be based on the self-government of their residents. - Provisions on the general principles governing municipal administration and the duties of the municipalities are laid down by an Act. - The municipalities have the right to levy municipal tax. Provisions on the general principles governing tax liability and the grounds for the tax as well as on the legal remedies available to the persons or entities liable to taxation are laid down by an Act. - Provisions on self-government in administrative areas larger than a municipality are laid down by an Act. In their native region, the Sami have linguistic and cultural self-government, as provided by an Act. Local Government Act (1995) The European Charter of Local Self-Government 8

9 How municipalities are structured
The local council is the decision-making body - Councillors are elected for 4 years - 17 to 85 members in each council The municipal executive board is in charge of running the municipal administration The municipal executive board is chaired by a local government officer who is appointed by the council or by a directly elected mayor Helsinki City Hall 9

10 Local Authorities’ Statutory Responsibilities
Municipalities are self-governing entities Municipalities are responsible for providing their residents with statutory basic services Main services to be provided: Social welfare and Health Education and culture Environment protection Public utilities Päämaja School(Päämajakoulu) 10

11 Regions as inter-communal joint bodies
19 statutory Regional Councils (+ the autonomous province of Åland islands) 72 Sub-regions Inter-municipal co-operation: member-municipalities are mainly responsible for funding the Regions Other funding comes from the European Union and from central government 11

12 Regional Government: the legal basis
Section of the Constitution 1993 Act on Regional Development 1997 Local Government Reform (only about regional divisions) A regional organization based on no specific law: Regions are governed by their member-municipalities which delineate their status Regions are independent legal entities 12

13 Regional Government: statutory responsibilities
No legislative power Involvement in the enacting of national and European policies regarding their regional interests Regional Councils - operate as regional development/regional planning authorities - are in charge of the interests of their region Others Regional responsibilities: - to promote the material and cultural well-being within their region - to promote their business community - to promote tourism - to co-ordinate regional cultural activities 13

14 Controlling local government
Central government cannot dismiss any municipal body Legal control by administrative courts : the Provincial Courts and the Supreme Administrative Court can quash any decision made by a municipality Budget and finance controls are issued by internal audit and by external auditors 1995 Municipal Act (section 8): the Ministry of the Interior’s is responsible for : - monitoring the operations and finances of local authorities - ensuring that municipal autonomy is taken into account in the preparation of legislation concerning local municipalities Central Government’s Provincial Offices are in charge of : - helping the municipalities in the preparation of development plans - supporting and evaluating the implementation of local services within its area - evaluating how the municipalities fulfill each of their responsibilities Control over Regions is limited 14

15 Local Government Elections and Appointments
To be allowed stand for any local election a citizen must: - be 18 year-old or more - live within the area of the local authority Strict rules concern: - local government members of staff to be elected as councillors - accumulation of terms: only for councillors (e.g.municipal board, auditing committee) Municipal councils members are elected for a 4 year-term The members of the Executive board are elected for 2 years An almost equal representation of men and women Councillors are informed and trained by political parties, local authorities, associations of Finnish local and regional authorities 15

16 Local government staff
Nearly half a million people are employed by local authorities - 20% of the whole Finnish workforce - 75% of local government staff are women Most local government employees work in health care, education, social and culture services Municipal personnel can be appointed by the council 16

17 Local Government finance
As a legal principle, local self-government means local autonomy in finance Municipal authorities finance their annual expenditure out of taxes Central government transfers several charges and sale-revenues Each local council independently decides on its income-tax rate Local finance structure: - Tax System (46% of local finance): - Household income-tax - Property-tax - Business tax and other community taxes - Fees on municipal services (25%) - Central government grant (25 %) - Financial assistance to pay for a wide range of statutory services - Equalization mechanism - Loans (4%) 17

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