BFF-42 COVID teaches Finnish parliament lesson on emergency resilience: Vehvilainen





COVID teaches Finnish parliament lesson on emergency resilience: Vehvilainen

HELSINKI, June 9, 2020 (BSS/XINHUA) – The Finnish parliament on Tuesday elected Anu Vehvilainen, an MP from the Center Party, as the new Parliament Speaker. The position became vacant following the appointment of previous speaker Matti Vanhanen as new finance minister.

In her acceptance speech, Vehvilainen, aged 56, said the COVID-19 crisis taught the Finnish parliament a lesson on emergency resilience. “The lesson from this spring is that working procedures must be reformed in such a way that parliament can take decisions in all circumstances,” Vehvilainen said.

She explained that after initial difficulties, work from distance was made possible in committees. She said at a press conference later that procedures for distant voting in committees, and possibly later in the plenaries, are now being investigated.

Vehvilainen believed Finland has been among the widest users of distant work, in proportion to population, and “parliament is part of that experiment”. She said she would recommend distant working until September at least. She remarked though that the public-access galleries of parliament were kept open all through the crisis.

In the national protocol in Finland, the Speaker of Parliament is the second in ranking after the President of the Republic. Speakers are elected for one annual parliamentary year at a time. Vehvilainen’s term will end in February 2021. It is customary that the speaker represents the second largest party in the reigning government coalition.

BSS/XINHUA/IJ/2304 hrs