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Editorial: This is why some people want to block President Sauli Niinistö’s mouth – publicity is also power – Editorial


The limits of the president’s power are not always found in the constitution, writes Timo Paunonen, editor-in-chief of Ilta-Sanomat.

Finland there has been a week’s discussion of the president’s prerogatives, or rather, when the president is allowed to speak and on what topic.

The conversation set in motion Helsingin Sanomat from an extensive article (July 12) featuring political scientists, politicians, and the president Sauli Niinistö themselves ponder the power of the president and the limits set by the constitution.

Niinistö continued the topic at MTV’s SuomiArena interview Tuesday. He felt that there are those in society who want to block the mouth of the president. Also in MTV’s SuomiArena arena’s presidents’ exam on Wednesday treated. Politicians saw no problems in the relationship.

On it is surprising in itself that the powers of the president are being discussed now that Niinistö is already sitting in the second term, ie he is in the final stage of the presidency.

However, Niinistö is the president who has complied with the new entry in the Constitution in a way that is suitable for a lawyer, that is, literally.

I guess no one has claimed that President Niinistö has somehow violated the Constitution. Niinistö’s main job is to lead Finland’s foreign and security policy together with the Government. Internal and EU policy is managed by a government led by the Prime Minister. The line division is clear. The European Union is the only thing that is difficult for the President’s prerogatives. The EU makes big economic policy decisions, but it also sets out a common foreign policy.

Here is the pain point to which the Constitution does not make a direct reference. However, things have been handled together.

When Niinistö was elected for his second term by a landslide, straight in the first round in 2018, it was clear that Niinistö’s mandate from the people is bigger than the constitutional mandate. It has recently been estimated that a president enjoying strong popularity may be a problem in the parliamentary system, especially when Finland has a past as a country of really strong presidents. As a person, however, Niinistö is a president who does not agree to a mere representative office.

Last days of discussion are apt to support this view.

The power debate has largely focused on what the president is allowed to say. The perspective is stupid because the Constitution does not forbid the President from speaking. He has the right to his opinion like everyone else. Instead, the debaters are wrong in claiming that the president’s opinion is not an exercise of power. Publicity is always an exercise of power, even if it is not known by the articles of the constitution governing relations between state institutions. When an exceptionally popular president says something, it always matters.

I guess this is probably clear to the president himself.

Here in mind, Niinistö is a president who seems to be too strong to fit the letter of the constitution, but society needs a value leader, and that is what Niinistö wants to be. Niinistö’s real power also lies with the prime ministers. The sluggish prime minister leaves the playing field open, on the other hand, the prime minister, who is precise about his powers, can show the president his own place, if he wishes.

Niinistö there are still four years left. Finns, politicians and citizens should get used to the fact that the President does not intend to remain silent on matters of interest to him – whether they belonged to the President according to the Constitution or not. Niinistö’s successor game is fully open. The presidential election can, in time, bring clarity to power considerations. After all, Niinistö’s successor can be a person whose actions and speeches fit well into the letter of the Constitution – or even fall behind it.

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