THE PRESIDENCY OF THE REPUBLIC OF FINLAND
The President is elected by direct popular vote. Presidential election is held every six years. If a President dies or is permanently incapacitated, a new President is elected as soon as possible for the full term. The latest premature election took place in 1982 after President Urho Kekkonen had resigned for reasons of health. President Mauno Koivisto, who was then elected and re-elected in 1988, was succeeded in 1994 by Secretary of State Martti Ahtisaari, whose term of office will end on March 1, 2000.
The President shall be a native-born citizen of Finland. The term of office is six years. The same person may be elected to only two consecutive terms. This limitation of terms took effect in 1991, and President Martti Ahtisaari, elected in 1994, is the first President to whom it applies.
Any political party with at least one member of Parliament and any group of 20.000 eligible voters may designate a Presidential candidate. This procedure was first used in the 1988 election. Prior to that there were no officially designated Presidential candidates.
If only one Presidential candidate is designated, the candidate becomes President without an election. Otherwise, the first round of voting takes place on the third Sunday in January of an election year. If one of the candidates receives more than half of the votes cast (at least 50% + one vote), the candidate is elected President. Otherwise, a second round is held on the third Sunday after the first round between the two candidates receiving the most votes in the first round. The candidate, who then receives the most votes, is elected President. In the event of a tie, the election is resolved by lot. The Council of State confirms the outcome of the election and, if necessary, conducts the drawing of lots.
The Presidential inauguration takes places on March 1 following the election. In a special session of Parliament starting at 12.00 hrs., the President-elect gives the following solemn oath of office:
"I, N.N., whom the people of Finland have elected President of the Republic of Finland, affirm that in the execution of my office as President, I shall faithfully and honestly observe and preserve the constitution and laws of the Republic and promote the prosperity of the Finnish people to the best of my ability."
After a premature election the inauguration takes place on the third day after the outcome of the election is confirmed. The term of the President-elect begins and that of the predecessor ends at the moment the solemn oath has been taken.
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The President is available for the performance of Presidential business at all times whenever necessary: the President has no working hours, or right to annual leave. As a rule the Presidential duties may not be delegated to anyone else, except in case of incapacity. However, in time of war the President may assign the commander-in-chiefship of the Armed Forces to someone else. Also the formal opening and closing of the Åland Legislature can be carried out by the Governor of Åland on President's behalf. In case of incapacity, the Prime Minister, or the minister designated as Deputy Prime Minister, is designated as Acting President for the duration of incapacity. The longest periods of incapacity have been due to illness (1927, 1940, 1945-1946, and 1981-1982), but in most cases before 1991 the President was considered incapacitated while travelling abroad. This practice was abandoned as of the beginning of 1992
The remuneration of the President is approved prior to and for each term of office by law and may not be amended during that term of office. The remuneration for the present term of office from March 1, 1994, to March 1, 2000, was set by an act (39/94) of January 14, 1994: FIM 558 000 as annual salary and FIM 900 000 for expenses. In addition, the Presidential residences and other necessary services are also maintained with public funds. The spouse of the President does not receive a salary or other remuneration by virtue of that position.
The pension benefits for any retired President are also confirmed by law at the same time as the remuneration. The present annual pension was set at FIM 334 800 by an act (40/94) of January 14, 1994. This pension is receivable by a President who had served at least six years (the full pension). The full pension is reduced by one-sixth for each full year the recipient has served less than six years, but the minimum pension is at least half of the full pension. Apart from the pension, an office suite as well as secretarial; transport; and security services are provided for a retired President with public funds. The spouse of the President does not receive any pension benefits by virtue of that position.
The above remuneration, pension, residences, and other services are fully tax-exempt to the recipient. Any other income or assets are subject to normal taxation. The Presidential remuneration and pension for the next term of office (March 1, 2000 thru March 1, 2006) must be set again before March 1, 2000. Any increase or decrease in the remuneration earlier requires that enabling legislation is enacted according to an exceptional procedure whereby approval requires a five-sixths majority in Parliament.
Three housing estates are available for the President to residential and other purposes: the Presidential Palace (Pohjoisesplanadi 1) and Mäntyniemi Residence (Mäntyniementie 4) in the City of Helsinki, and Kultaranta Summer Residence in the City of Naantali. Tamminiemi Residence, in the City of Helsinki, was used by several Presidents until the end of President Kekkonen's term.
The Presidential Palace
The building of the Presidential Palace was completed in 1820. It was commissioned by a wealthy merchant J. H. Heidenstrauch for residence, business, and warehouse premises. The estate was purchased by the Government in 1837 and remodelled to serve as the official residence in Helsinki of the Russian Emperor, who was the Grand Duke of Finland. Since then the Palace has been expanded, modified, and renovated on several occasions, most recently in 1994 when the facades were redone. The Palace has nearly 3000 sq.m. of floor space and houses the staff premises of the President's Office and the official Presidential suite. At the Palace, the President holds the annual Independence Day reception and various other festive functions, and receives visitors. President Mauno Koivisto and Mrs. Tellervo Koivisto lived in the Palace for the most part of his twelve year term. The Helsinki City Tourist Office arranges tours of the Palace on two days a week all year round.
The old Presidential residence at Tamminiemi was set aside for the personal use of President Kekkonen after he was incapacitated by serious illness in 1981. The Government decided to build a new Presidential residence in the City of Helsinki. The new Mäntyniemi Residence, designed by Architect Reima Pietilä, was completed in November 1993 after more than ten years planning and construction. The total cost of the project rose to FIM 200 million. Mäntyniemi Residence has a floor space of 2200 sq.m., of which 1400 sq.m. are living quarters, personal office suites and reception rooms. The rest is used as staff premises, or are housing maintenance, storage, and technical facilities. President Mauno Koivisto and Mrs. Tellervo Koivisto moved to Mäntyniemi Residence on November 17, 1993, and were its first occupants. They lived there until March 1, 1994. At Mäntyniemi, the President can arrange meetings and receive visitors as well as hold other minor functions. During the summer, the Helsinki City Tourist Office arranges tours of Mäntyniemi Residence several days a week.
Kultaranta Summer Residence
The official summer residence of the President is the Kultaranta estate in the City of Naantali. The grounds of the estate cover an area of 56 hectares. The main residential building is a granite villa with a tower offering a splendid view of the surroundings. The Presidential ensign is flown on the top of the tower whenever the President is at Kultaranta. On the grounds, there are also a number of other residential and service buildings, greenhouses, gardens, and woodland. The principal sight at Kultaranta is the park bordering on the sea. Several Presidents have spent their summers at Kultaranta, where they have received visitors, and held meetings, receptions, and other official functions.
A wealthy businessman Alfred Kordelin bought Kultaranta in 1909 for his summer residence. Architect Lars Sonck designed the granite villa built there in 1913 -1916. In accordance with the terms of Kordelin's last will and testament, the estate was transferred to the University Foundation of Turku in 1918. The Foundation exchanged it in 1922 with the Government for another lot of land in the City of Turku. In summertime, the public is admitted to Kultaranta park on Friday afternoons free of charge. Tours to Kultaranta are arranged at other times by Naantali City Tourist Office.
The President's Office, located in the Palace, assists the President in the performance of Presidential duties, takes care of administrative affairs deriving therefrom, and maintains the services necessary for the President and the Presidential family in accordance with the President's instructions. The Office is responsible for the President's personal security, and that of the Presidential premises. The Office also provides an office suite and secretarial, transport, and security services for the retired President. The authorized staff of the Office amounts to 83 persons. Further personnel are placed at the disposal of the Office by various Government departments and agencies (the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Armed Forces, the Police). Appropriations for the Presidency in 1997 amounted to FIM 29.8 million, including Presidential remuneration and expenses; Office salaries and operating costs; housing maintainance and repairs; and the expenditure on the retired President (FIM 24.8 million in 1995).
Aids-de-Camp of the President
The Armed Forces second presently three general staff officers as Aids-de-Camp of the President. The ADCs work in the Office of the President on a regular basis. This practice dates back to 1918-1919, when General C.G. Mannerheim was the Regent of Finland (temporary Head of State). The famous Finnish artist and then Lieutenant Akseli Gallen-Kallela served for a time as Mannerheim's ADC in that period. Currently, one ADC assists the President's spouse and the retired President.
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