The present government presented new legislation to Parliament to create a short and moderate lockdown in the two of the largest city areas here in Finland. Infections have doubled quickly, and critical hospital beds are filling up. This is mainly due to the spread of the new variants that is alarming our pandemic specialists as it appears to infect unvaccinated younger folk.
The government’s response was legislation to slow infection rates by prohibiting people from congregating in groups larger that a few. There was no evening curfew, but people were only allowed to shop for necessary goods. They could also exercise outside, and go to the holiday homes owned by themselves. The government also wanted to stop people from having large parties or other larger family events and get-togethers at home. Masks were only required in enclosed public spaces and in public transport.
The government was unanimous and fully supported by the country’s medical specialists responsible for pandemic controls. The Attorney General, the highest legal authority in the government, also gave the green light for the legislation.
The present government is led by the SocDems, the Center Party, the Greens, the Lefts and Swedish Folk Party.
One of the strange things about the constitution here is that we do not have a Constitutional Court, but in its place Parliament has a Constitutional Council made up from MPs from all parties.
The Council can accept or reject new legislation presented to Parliament depending on their interpretation of the Constitution. Few of the ordinary MP members are lawyers and none are constitutional experts. The Council is meant to be non-political and base their decisions on advise from legal experts, a similar process that the government also follows.
The President of the Council is the former leader of the Social Democrats and former PM who the present PM replaced in both positions. You may be able to guess the rest…
After due consideration, the President suddenly announced today (30.3.21) that the Council could not accept the new legislation because they said that it was too stringent and too broad in its coverage, it could not be adequately enforced by the police, and parts were subject to unclear interpretations in their opinion.
Up until this moment, the great majority of Finns (over 70% polled) were in favour of the lockdown as presented by the government.
Naturally the opposition parties and the media are ecstatic at the loss of face for the government. With local elections coming in June, the present government has just lost a hefty percentage of the vote.
Several months ago the same Constitutional Council was clearly playing politics relating to the Foreign Minister’s actions on another matter. This time round it is hard not to avoid the conclusion that something similar is happening. As far as the President of the Council is concerned, it appears to be doing something similar to Trump’s post-election scorch-earth policy, but of course nobody dares says that in public…
The government is responsible for the management of the Pandemic. So far they have done a brilliant job compared to all other European countries. The Constitutional Council was created for a whole different world, and they will never be accused of failing to stop or slow the spread of the virus and is virulent mutations. Their decision will cause thousands more infections and many more deaths.