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Political Oversight

According to the Constitution, the Government must enjoy Parliament's confidence. Parliament has the right to receive the information it requires concerning the measures taken by the Government and subordinate authorities. When Parliament considers government reports, accounts, announcements and statements by the Prime Minister, MPs can present their evaluations of the measures taken by the Government and authorities.

Opposition's means to call the Government to account

With the backing of at least 20 MPs the opposition can submit an interpellation in order to measure confidence in the Government or a particular minister. The Government must reply to an interpellation in plenary session within 15 days. Interpellations are generally answered by the Prime Minister or the minister whose administrative sector the question concerns. The Member whose signature appears first on the interpellation begins the debate, and then the parliamentary groups are given the floor in order of size.

The purpose of an interpellation is usually to debate an important issue in which the opposition believes that the Government’s measures are misdirected or inadequate. If a motion of censure has been made and seconded during the debate, Parliament votes to determine whether the Government or a particular minister enjoys its confidence. A vote of confidence requires a simple majority, or in other words those voting Yea outnumber those voting Nay.

An interpellation, together with the ensuing debate and vote, is always a significant parliamentary event. An interpellation is considered the most powerful means to ensure the functioning of the parliamentary system.

MPs’ means to call the Government to account

Members can submit written questions to the minister responsible for a particular matter. This is a request for the minister to provide further information on the matter. The minister must reply to a written question within 21 days after the question has been received by the Prime Minister's Office.

Question time is held on Thursdays at the beginning of the plenary session that starts at 4 pm. Here Members can present brief oral questions to the appropriate ministers and hear their replies. Ministers do not receive questions in advance, so question time is a test of their command of timely issues in their administrative sector. The Speaker decides the order in which Members may take the floor and how long each topic may be discussed. Parliament does not vote on matters during question time, which is televised by the Finnish Broadcasting Company.

Role of the Audit Committee

The Audit Committee is responsible for parliamentary oversight of central government finances after the fact. It takes the initiative in deciding what matters to examine and reports significant findings to Parliament for consideration in plenary session.

The Audit Committee examines the Report on the Final Central Government Accounts, the Annual Activity Report of the National Audit Office and reports submitted by the Parliamentary Auditors, among other things. It also prepares matters concerning oversight of the management of central government finances. It has the right to decide what matters need to be examined and to submit reports to the plenary session on these matters.

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