Jaakko Jonkka, the Chancellor of Justice, has stirred up public debate by estimating that an unusually high number of legislative proposals with constitutional problems have been presented to the Parliament by the Government of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre).
Jonkka voiced his concerns about the quality of lawmaking in an interview with Helsingin Sanomat on Saturday, revealing that in some cases his recommendations for addressing the problems have been outright ignored.
The Office of the Chancellor of Justice is responsible for supervising the lawfulness of the official acts of the Government. It does not, however, have the legal right to prevent a draft bill from being submitted to the Parliament. “We can only offer our thoughts on how a particular proposal should be revised or rectified,” explained Jonkka.
Sipilä admitted that the identified shortcomings in lawmaking are serious but assured that they have been recognised by the Government.
“The Government's premise for lawmaking is naturally constitutional compliance. It is justifiable to present a proposal to the Constitutional Law Committee in circumstances that are subject to various interpretations or where there is no established legal interpretation,” he wrote in his personal blog on Sunday. “The lawmaking-related problems are long-standing. They have been recognised. The Government has addressed and reacted to them.”
Sipilä also drew attention to the time constraints faced by lawmakers.
“The government programme is ambitious. For too long have reforms been left undone in Finland. The Government is trying to catch up with the ‘reform debt’ as much as possible in the current electoral term,” he stated.
The current electoral term, he added, has also revealed that the resources available for preparatory legislative work are scarce in several ministries.
Jonkka acknowledged that the resources of ministries are scarce following cuts in their appropriations but argued that it is absolutely unsustainable to cite time constraints and political pressure as justification for scrapping the principles of good lawmaking.
“Major legislative projects are currently under preparation, and it'd really be worthwhile to make sure they aren't ruined by rushing the preparatory work,” he said to Helsingin Sanomat.
Jonkka's statements prompted a number of concerned comments from legal experts on Sunday.
“I never thought I'd be saying this, but the preservation of the constitutional state requires that the Government steps down,” said Göran Djupsund, a professor of political science at Åbo Akademi University.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Kimmo Mäntylä – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi