Members form parliamentary groups according to political party, and these play a key role in parliamentary work on a practical level. Each parliamentary group elects its own chairpersons and possibly other organs.
There is no legal obligation to join a parliamentary group, but Members usually belong to their own party's group, of which there are currently eight.Seats in the Parliament (updated 14 August 2017):
Centre Party Parliamentary Group 49National Coalition Party Parliamentary Group 37Social Democratic Parliamentary Group 35New Choice Parliamentary Group 19Finns Party Parliamentary Group 17Green Parliamentary Group 15Left Alliance Parliamentary Group 12Swedish Parliamentary Group 10Christian Democratic Parliamentary Group 5
Members discuss timely political issues at parliamentary group meetings and decide what stance to take on matters being considered by Parliament. Group meetings are prepared by a working committee or the chairpersons.
Discussions in a parliamentary group are usually conducted on the basis of the chairperson's proposal. If agreement cannot be reached on a matter, decisions may be put to a vote. Groups generally strive to reach a consensus, however. The parliamentary groups normally meet on Thursdays.
Parliamentary work is directed by the Speaker and Deputy Speakers, who are responsible for negotiating with other parliamentary groups on a group's position, among other things. The nature of a parliamentary group's work depends largely on whether a party is in the Government or the opposition.
The parliamentary groups facilitate decision-making in Parliament, and their position has been strengthened in recent years. The parliamentary groups have been active since the early days of the unicameral Parliament, but their role as a political actor was only given full recognition in the Constitution that was approved in 2000.