Facts about the Government
The Prime Minister is elected by Parliament and thereafter formally appointed to office by the President of the Republic. The President appoints the other ministers in accordance with a proposal from the Prime Minister.
Before the Prime Minister is elected, the groups represented in Parliament negotiate on the political programme and composition of the Government. On the basis of these negotiations, and having heard the views of the Speaker of Parliament, the President informs Parliament of the nominee for Prime Minister. The nominee is elected Prime Minister if supported by more than half the votes cast in an open vote in Parliament.
Government ministers are appointed to their portfolios by an open letter of appointment from the President of the Republic. Ministers must be Finnish citizens known for their integrity and ability to serve.
The President of the Republic accepts, upon request, the resignation of the Government as a whole or of an individual minister. Even if no request is made, the President may in any event dismiss the Government as a whole or an individual minister if they no longer enjoy the confidence of Parliament. On the proposal of the Prime Minister, the President may also accept the resignation of a minister for some other reason.
Open letter of appointment from the President of the Republic
The President of the Republic formally decides the composition of the incoming administration in the presence of the members of the previous administration at a presidential session of the Government.
The open letter of appointment from the President of the Republic names the Prime Minister and the portfolios of the other members of the Government (e.g. Minister of Finance) or the ministry to which they are appointed (e.g. the Minister of Culture is responsible for work within the Ministry of Education and Culture).
The Government appoints the ministers who will stand in for the Prime Minister and other ministers when the latter are unable to act. When the minister deputising for the Prime Minister is prevented from attending to his/her duties, the most senior minister will stand in. Other ministers have usually four or five deputies.
Oath or affirmation
Before accepting their portfolios, those ministers who have not previously done so take both an oath of office and a judicial oath, or else make an equivalent affirmation.
The oath is taken or the affirmation made at the first plenary session of the Government after its appointment.
Division of labour among ministers
At its first plenary session, the Government decides on the division of labour between the ministers in ministries which have more than one minister. Ministers are viewed as being of equal status within the ministry.
The Government Programme
The Government Programme is a plan of action agreed by the parties participating in the Government and it sets out the main tasks facing the incoming administration. An incoming Government must issue a communication to Parliament on its programme without delay. The Prime Minister monitors the implementation of the programme.
Declaration of ministers' interests
The Finnish Constitution forbids Government ministers from holding any other public office or undertaking any other task which may obstruct the performance of their ministerial duties or compromise the credibility of their actions as members of the Government. Ministers are required to declare their commercial activities, shareholdings, other significant assets and liabilities, and any outside duties or other interests which may be of relevance in evaluating their performance as a member of the Government.
The Prime Minister's Office draws up a list of ministers' interests immediately after their formal appointment to office. These details are then communicated without delay to Parliament in the form of a Government statement.
Monthly remuneration paid to cabinet ministers is equivalent to that of a deputy speaker of Parliament (9,729 € per month in May 2011). The prime minister’s pay is same as the speaker of Parliament (11,675 € per month in May 2011). Ministerial pay is subject to tax. Members of Parliament appointed as members of the Government forfeit half of the salary and expense allowance they receive from Parliament. A member of the Government is entitled to a 30-day paid leave corresponding to annual holiday.
One of the key tasks in organizing the incoming administration is appointment of the Cabinet Committees.
There are four statutory Cabinet Committees: the Cabinet Committee on Foreign and Security Policy, the Cabinet Committee on European Union Affairs, the Cabinet Finance Committee and the Cabinet Committee on Economic Policy.
Order of seating
The Prime Minister's Office draws up the order of seating for ministers at plenary sessions and presidential sessions of the Government on the basis of seniority.
The most senior minister is the Prime Minister, followed by the minister appointed by the Government as the minister deputising for the Prime Minister. Next in line are those ministers who have previously held ministerial office, their seniority being determined according to their length of service as a minister. Finally, for those new to ministerial office, seniority is determined according to length of service in Parliament and duties discharged either in Parliament or for their party.
Government voting procedure is collegial, which means that each minister in turn votes in reverse order of seniority, from the most junior up to the most senior. An order of seating based on seniority thus simplifies the voting procedure. The order in which ministers deputise for the Prime Minister is a mirror image of this, from the most senior to the most junior.
Composition and functions
The Government is to be understood, on the one hand, as the body which convenes for the general governing of the country, consisting of the Prime Minister and other ministers, and, on the other hand, the decision-making body for governmental and administrative matters consisting of the Government plenary session and the ministries.
The Prime Minister directs the activities of the Government and oversees the preparation and consideration of matters that come within the mandate of the Government. The Prime Minister chairs the plenary sessions of the Government and statutory Cabinet Committees.
Currently, the Government consists of 12 ministries. Each ministry is responsible for the preparation of matters within its field of competence and for the proper functioning of administration.
The ministries are
- The Prime Minister's Office
- The Ministry for Foreign Affairs
- The Ministry of Justice
- The Ministry of the Interior
- The Ministry of Defence
- The Ministry of Finance
- The Ministry of Education and Culture
- The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
- The Ministry of Transport and Communications
- The Ministry of Employment and the Economy
- The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
- The Ministry of the Environment.
A Permanent Secretary is the most senior official in a ministry. The Permanent Secretary directs and monitors the operation of the ministry. In the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Finance, State Secretaries serve as the Permanent Secretaries of the ministry. A State Secretary may also be appointed to the Prime Minister's Office and his/her term is linked to that of the Prime Minister. A Permanent Secretary serves as the closest adviser to the minister and directs preparatory work, promotes and monitors the implementation of the Government Programme and manages cooperation between ministries. A State Secretary may also be appointed to the other Finnish Government ministries to assist the minister and his/her term is also linked to that of the relevant minister. The minister may assign the State Secretary to act as his/her substitute in the preparatory work of national and international issues. In addition, ministers also have political special advisers.
The area for which each ministry is responsible is specified by the Government Rules of Procedure and by decrees governing the ministry in question. The scope of the ministry is generally indicated by its name. Matters which do not fall within the scope of any other ministry are handled by the Prime Minister's Office.
The members of the Government work both in the ministry which they have been appointed to head or serve and in the Government. The latter involves participation in the Cabinet Committees, the plenary sessions and the Government's presidential sessions. All matters to be decided by the Government are prepared in the relevant ministry. The ministries also handle a significant proportion of administrative issues belonging in principle to the Government as a whole.
The workings of the Government
The weekly schedule for members of the Government includes the following regular meetings, in addition to their responsibilities at their own ministries:
Cabinet Finance Committee
Government plenary session
Government evening session
Cabinet Committee on Foreign and Security Policy
Cabinet Committee on European Union Affairs
Cabinet Committee on Economic Policy.
There may also be extraordinary meetings of the Government plenary session and the Cabinet Finance Committee. The timing of such meetings is decided by the Prime Minister.
There are also other cabinet committees and ministerial working groups set up to prepare individual items or categories of business.
Government plenary sessions
Plenary sessions of the Government are held as a rule at 13.00 every Thursday in the Government Assembly Hall.
Sessions are chaired by the Prime Minister, or, when the Prime Minister is unable to attend, by the minister deputising for the Prime Minister. If the minister deputising for the Prime Minister is also unable to attend, the session is chaired by the most senior minister present.
In addition to the Prime Minister and other ministers, plenary sessions of the Government are also attended by the Chancellor of Justice or the Deputy Chancellor of Justice, or the person standing in for the latter. When the business before the session relates to the University of Helsinki, the Chancellor of the University is also entitled to take part.
Plenary sessions constitute a quorum when a minimum of five members of the Government are in attendance.
The Prime Minister decides the order for the presentation of business at plenary sessions. Each item on the agenda is presented by a rapporteur from the ministry concerned. These are, however, not obliged to attend if the business is to be decided without debate on the basis of the rapporteur's written proposal.
Rapporteurs are called to attend only if ministers wish to amend, supplement or discuss the proposal.
The minutes of plenary sessions are taken by the Secretary to Government Sessions from the Government Session Unit in the Prime Minister's Office.
Issues raised in plenary session
Government plenary sessions make proposals to the President of the Republic on decisions in matters which come under the authority of the President. Plenary sessions also have the power to issue decrees and take decisions on governmental and administrative matters coming under the authority of the Government.
Division of the Government's decision-making authority between the plenary session and the individual ministries in governmental and administrative matters is provided for in general terms in the Constitution and Government Act. More detailed provision is made in the Government Rules of Procedure.
Government plenary sessions handle approximately 2,000 items of business every year.
Working procedures in plenary session
The handling of business in Government plenary sessions is based on a presentation list distributed in advance and including the draft decisions proposed by the presenting rapporteurs.
Items for which a rapporteur is not called to attend are handled under the decision list procedure. Items on the decision list are generally approved unchanged. Ministers do, however, have the right to remove an item from the agenda or request the production of relevant documents, while the Government as a whole may decide to shelve the matter until a later session.
Under the alternative presentation list procedure, items on the presentation list are presented in person by the rapporteur responsible for the preparatory work. Items are presented according to the order in which the ministries are listed in the Government Act.
If a member of the Government in plenary session wishes to examine an item on the presentation list in greater detail before reaching a decision, he/she may request access to the relevant documents. Ministers also have the right to remove an item from the agenda, while the Government as a whole may decide to shelve the matter until a later session to allow time for additional information or for some other comparable reason.
All members of the Government have the right to propose their own solution to business discussed in plenary session. A vote must be taken in cases where more than one proposal is put forward. Proposals by a minister do not need the support of other ministers in order to be voted on. A proposal by a rapporteur which does not receive the backing of a single minister is dropped without a vote.
Government voting procedure is collegial. Fundamental to this procedure is that all proposals are decided on a single vote. In the voting process, each minister in turn expresses his/her opinion in reverse order of seniority, from the most junior up to the most senior minister. The chairperson is the last to express a view. The proposal supported by the majority is declared the decision. In the event of a tie, the chairperson's vote is decisive.
If a minister wishes to express a minority view on an issue, but does not wish to present an alternative solution or a dissenting opinion, he/she has the right to enter a statement in the Government minutes.
Decisions taken at plenary sessions of the Government are the collective responsibility of all participating members of the Government plus the presenting rapporteur. Dissenting ministers may, however, release themselves from responsibility by presenting a dissenting opinion for entry in the Government minutes.
Ministerial responsibility is both political and legal in nature. Political responsibility and control are mediated by the interaction between the Government and Parliament, for example through Government statements and reports, and questions and interpellations by members of Parliament. Legal responsibility means the legality of official actions by ministers is subject to investigation by the High Court of Impeachment.
Presidential sessions of the Government are held as a rule at 11.00. every Friday. The President of the Republic takes decisions in these sessions on the basis of a presentation by the minister to whose portfolio the item for decision belongs. The order of presentation is the same as for Government plenary sessions. Presidential sessions are chaired by the President.
The Government is responsible for presenting proposals that regard such items of business which must be placed before the President. Where necessary, the Government plenary session may decide its position by voting. The presenting minister must then present the matter to the President according to the position supported by a majority within the Government.
All the ministers attend presidential sessions of the Government. In order to constitute a quorum, sessions must be attended by the President and at least five members of the Government. Also present are the Chancellor of Justice or the Deputy Chancellor of Justice, or the person standing in for the latter, plus the Secretary to Government Sessions, who keeps the minutes.
As the President of the Republic alone takes the decisions at presidential sessions, no vote is taken on business presented. To release themselves from responsibility, ministers may, however, have their opinions entered in the minutes. The President may request the production of documents to facilitate more detailed examination of items raised.
When the business before the session relates to the University of Helsinki, the Chancellor of the University is also entitled to take part for as long as these particular issues are on the table. The same applies to the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces when the President takes a decision on a matter of military command at the Government plenary session. The permanent secretary of the relevant ministry, or another official standing in for the permanent secretary, is present during the handling of ministry business.
During the summer, presidential sessions are not held every week, and they may also be held at Kultaranta, the President's summer residence in Naantali. The procedure at these sessions differs in that all the ministries are represented by an official from the Prime Minister's Office during discussion of ministry business.
Cabinet Committee on Foreign and Security Policy
The Cabinet Committee on Foreign and Security Policy usually meets on Fridays, after the presidential session. The Committee is convened by the Prime Minister. Over the past years, the time allotted for the Committee meetings has been taken up by joint meetings between the President of the Republic and the Cabinet Committee on Foreign and Security Policy.
The Cabinet Committee on Foreign and Security Policy is chaired by the Prime Minister. Its other members are the Minister for Foreign Affairs, any other minister designated to consider matters falling within the mandate of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Defence and a maximum of four other ministers designated by the Government. When the matter in hand relates to his or her responsibilities, meetings of the Committee are attended by the Minister of the Interior; on the same basis, any other minister may also attend and participate in the Committee’s proceedings.
Important aspects of foreign and security policy and other matters concerning Finland’s relations with other states, as well as important matters concerning internal security and overall national defence, are prepared by the Committee.
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs serves as the Committee’s secretariat.
Minutes of this Committee’s meetings are secret. Meetings are attended by the Director of Government Communications who, in line with the Prime Minister's directions, is responsible for the dissemination of information on decisions taken.
Meetings between the Cabinet Committee on Foreign and Security Policy and the President of the Republic
Finland’s foreign policy is directed by the President of the Republic, in co-operation with the Government. The Government is responsible for national-level preparatory and procedural work on decisions to be made within the European Union and decides on the associated measures in Finland, unless the decision requires approval by Parliament.
The meeting may be convened by the President or the Prime Minister. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs serves as the meeting’s secretariat.
Cabinet Committee on European Union Affairs
The Cabinet Committee on European Union Affairs usually meets at 8.00 on Friday mornings. The committee is chaired by the Prime Minister. Its membership includes the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Justice, the Minister designated to consider matters relating to Foreign Trade, the Minister of Economic Affairs, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry and three other ministers. Two of the last-mentioned are designated by the Government, while the third is the minister within whose mandate the matter in hand falls. When necessary, the Government may appoint yet two ministers as a Committee member. Any other minister may also attend and take part in the Committee’s proceedings.
Each matter is presented to the Committee by the minister within whose mandate the matter falls.
When the Prime Minister or the minister within whose mandate the matter in hand falls so decide, the Committee sees to preparatory work on matters decided in the European Union. The Committee also handles all other matters considered necessary.
The Government Secretariat for EU Affairs serves as secretariat to the Committee. Minutes are kept of committee meetings. These minutes are immediately public in so far as the matters dealt with are not referred to the Government for its consideration, and are not classified as secret.
The Director of Government Communications attends meetings of the Cabinet Committee on European Union Affairs and, in line with the Prime Minister's directions, is responsible for the dissemination of information on decisions taken.
Cabinet Finance Committee
The Cabinet Finance Committee usually meets at 12.00 on Wednesdays in the Government session hall. The Cabinet Finance Committee is chaired by the Prime Minister. Other members include the Minister of Finance, other ministers at the Ministry of Finance, a maximum of six other ministers designated by the Government and any minister within whose mandate the matter in hand falls.
The quorum of the Cabinet Finance Committee is three. One of the members present must be from the Ministry of Finance.
The duty of the Cabinet Finance Committee is to exercise advance financial control. The Committee also handles preliminary preparatory work on matters of considerable economic moment, or that otherwise require the opinion of the Committee. As in government plenary sessions, discussions follow an agenda drawn up within the ministries.
A government plenary session may reject an opinion issued by the Cabinet Finance Committee. If a ministry intends to take a decision conflicting with the opinion of the Committee, the matter must be presented for consideration by a government plenary session.
Each matter is presented by the State Secretary of the Ministry of Finance who serves as the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, or his or her substitute. The State Secretary also presents matters at the meeting.
Cabinet Committee on Economic Policy
Meetings of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Policy are usually held on Tuesday mornings. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Policy is chaired by the Prime Minister. Other members include the Minister of Finance, another minister from the Ministry of Finance, the Minister of Economic Affairs, the Minister of Labour and a maximum of four other ministers designated by the Government.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Policy handles matters related to overall economic development and economic policy, guidelines for the development of general government finances and other economic policy issues as decided by the Prime Minister.
The Director-General of the Ministry of Finance's Budget Department acts as secretary at meetings of the Committee. The Ministry of Finance serves as the Committee’s secretariat.
The Director of Government Communications attends meetings of the Committee. Press releases and any other matter related to communications are discussed and agreed on by the Prime Minister and the minister responsible for the matter discussed by the Committee.
Ad hoc cabinet committees and ministerial working groups
The Government plenary session may appoint ad hoc cabinet committees to prepare matters which fall within the competence of the Government. The Prime Minister designates the members of these committees after having consulted the Government parties. The mandate of a committee is also defined at the time of appointment.
Preparation can also be entrusted to a group of ministers. A ministerial working group is usually appointed at an informal Government meeting to prepare a matter or a group of matters.
Government evening sessions
A Government evening session isan unofficial meeting convened by the Prime Minister. They are held as a rule at 17.00 on Wednesdays in the Government Banqueting Hall (Smolna).
In keeping with their informal spirit, no formal decisions are taken at the evening sessions. In addition to members of the Government, the sessions are also attended by the chairpersons of the parliamentary groups of the Government parties, the Chancellor of Justice, the State Secretary of the Prime Minister's Office and the Director of Government Communications.
The Prime Minister's special adviser on political affairs serves as secretary to the evening sessions. The resulting notes and minutes are not considered public documents.
Informal Government meetings
Informal Government meetings are held between ministers convened by the Prime Minister. In addition to members of the Government, informal Government meetings are also attended by the chairpersons of the parliamentary groups of the Government parties, the Chancellor of Justice, the State Secretary of the Prime Minister's Office and the Director of Government Communications.
Items for discussion are presented by the relevant minister in person. No formal decisions are taken. The Prime Minister's special adviser on political affairs serves as secretary to the meetings. The resulting notes and minutes are not considered public documents.
The Prime Minister directs the work of the Government and oversees the preparation and consideration of Government business. The Prime Minister monitors the implementation of the Government Programme and coordinates the preparation and consideration of issues to be decided in the European Union . When the Prime Minister is prevented from attending to his or her duties, these are taken over by the minister deputising for the Prime Minister, or, when the latter is also prevented, by the most senior minister in the Government.
Directing the work of the Government
The Prime Minister chairs plenary sessions of the Government and has the right to decide the days and the order for the presentation of business in the sessions. The Prime Minister may also require presentation of a particular item of business to the Government plenary session by a set date. On the proposal of the Prime Minister or the minister under whose competence the matter in hand falls, the Government plenary session may transfer a matter coming under the competence of an individual ministry for decision in plenary session. When a vote in plenary session ends in a tie, the Prime Minister's casting vote is decisive.
The Prime Minister chairs all the statutory Cabinet Committees, namely the Cabinet Committee on Foreign and Security Policy, the Cabinet Committee on European Union Affairs, the Cabinet Finance Committee and the Cabinet Committee on Economic Policy . He or she also chairs sessions of the Economic Council, the Research and Innovation Council and the Title Board.
Head of the Prime Minister's Office
The Prime Minister is head of the Prime Minister's Office. The role of the Prime Minister's Office is to ensure that the activities of the Prime Minister and Government flow smoothly in all circumstances. The Prime Minister's Office is responsible for the monitoring of the implementation of the Government Programme and assists the Prime Minister in the general management of Government functions. The Prime Minister’s Office also coordinates Finland’s EU policy and handles issues related to the development of the EU.
Political leadership of the Government
The Prime Minister is the political leader of the Government and is responsible for reconciling the differing views on Government policy held by the various groups represented in the Government. The Prime Minister is also responsible for coordinating the work of the Government with that of Parliament.
The new Finnish Constitution which came into force on 1 March 2000 has strengthened the position of the Prime Minister.
Under the new Constitution, the President of the Republic may dissolve Parliament and call fresh elections only on receipt of a reasoned request from the Prime Minister and having first consulted the party groups in Parliament. The President appoints the other ministers of the Government in accordance with a proposal by the Prime Minister.
Standing in for the President
The Prime Minister stands in for the President of the Republic whenever the President is prevented from carrying out his or her duties. However, a statement by the President of the Republic entered in the Government minutes in December 1991 ended the previous practice whereby the President had been automatically considered to be prevented from carrying out his or her duties during trips abroad.
In practice, the Prime Minister only stands in for the President in cases where it is known in advance that it will be necessary during the course of a presidential trip abroad for the President to take decisions in presidential sessions of the Government, or where such a need arises after the President has gone abroad and the President does not consider he or she will be able to return to Finland to attend the session in person.
The functions of Parliament
Parliament's most important function is to exercise its legislative powers. Parliament has an independent right to submit legislative proposals, but in practice most decisions taken in Parliament are based on Government proposals. All proposals and initiatives are prepared in committees before final consideration. Once the report of the committee preparing a matter has been issued, the proposal is submitted to its first reading in a plenary session of Parliament. Legislative proposals are finally accepted or rejected during their second reading by the plenary session.
An Act adopted by Parliament is submitted to the President of the Republic for confirmation. The President must decide on confirmation within three months of the submission of the Act. If the President does not confirm the Act, it is returned to Parliament for further consideration. If Parliament readopts the Act without material alterations, it enters into force without confirmation. The Act must be signed by the President of the Republic. Unfinished business is carried over to the next parliamentary session unless parliamentary elections intervene.
The approval of Parliament is required for such treaties and other international obligations that contain provisions of a legislative nature or are otherwise significant. Parliament also takes the most important decisions related to State finances including decisions on the budget and taxes.
Parliament considers European Commission proposals for acts, agreements and other measures which are to be decided in the European Union and which, under the Constitution, would otherwise fall within the competence of Parliament. In such cases, the Government communicates the proposal to Parliament in order to determine its position. The Bank of Finland and the Social Insurance Institution operate under the supervision of Parliament.
Participation of ministers in parliamentary work
Each member of the Government has the right to attend the plenary sessions of Parliament and participate in its discussions. Ministers attend the meetings of the parliamentary committees only on request.
Successful discharge of ministerial duties requires active participation in the work of Parliament. Ministers should, in particular, follow the handling in Parliament of matters which fall within their own field of competence, and should attend plenary sessions on such occasions.
The minister concerned should address plenary session of Parliament during the preliminary debate and the first reading of a Government bill and participate in the debate as necessary.
Parliament is responsible for monitoring the Government activities. For that reason, the Government submits to each parliamentary session a report on its activities and relations with foreign states. In addition to the Government’s annual report, Parliament is also given a report on the final central government accounts.
An interpellation is a question submitted by at least twenty Members of Parliament to the Government or a minister concerning a matter falling within their competence. Interpellations must be addressed to the Parliament’s Central Office. All interpellations are raised at a Parliament plenary session and sent for consideration to the Government. The Government formulates the answers to interpellations.
If a motion of no confidence is put forward during the debate on an interpellation, Parliament will, at the end of the proceedings, hold a vote of confidence on whether the Government or a particular minister enjoys the confidence of Parliament.
Members of Parliament may submit a written question to a minister on a matter falling within the minister's competence. Written questions are sent from Parliament to the Prime Minister’s Office which then forwards them to the appropriate minister. After the Prime Minister’s Office has received the question, a ministry has 21 days to provide a written answer directly to Parliament.
Parliamentary Question Time, during which Members of Parliament can present oral questions to ministers, is normally held at 4.00 p.m. every Thursday. The Speaker's Council may, however, decide to hold it either immediately before or immediately after a plenary session.
During Question Time, ministers answer unrehearsed questions. No more than a minute can be devoted to answering each question. Questions are devoted to a specific theme or matters belonging to a specific administrative sector. The Speaker's Council agrees on the theme for Question Time in advance with the Government.
The Speaker's Council may decide to organize a discussion on an issue of pressing topical interest, ruling at the same time on who will be called to speak and other practical aspects of the debate. The timing of the debate and the contributions of ministers is agreed in advance with the Government.
Reports and communications
The Government from time to time issues communications or reports to Parliament on issues related to the general governance of the country or international relations. Government reports are normally first discussed in committee; the resulting committee report then serves as a basis for debate by MPs. Government communications can also be sent for discussion in committee. Debate on a Government communication may conclude with a vote of confidence on the Government or an individual minister. Votes of confidence cannot be held on the basis of Government reports.
Statement by the Prime Minister
At a time agreed with the Speaker, the Prime Minister may deliver a statement to Parliament on some aspect of Government business. The statement may also be delivered by another member of the Government designated by the Prime Minister. The statement is followed by a general debate in plenary session without a vote.
The Chancellor of Justice, on request, provides the President, the Government and the Ministries with information and opinions on legal issues. The Chancellor of Justice also oversees the lawfulness of the official acts of the organs of state.
The Chancellor of Justice, the Deputy Chancellor of Justice and the person standing in for the latter attend the Government Plenary Sessions and Presidential Sessions. The Chancellor of Justice is responsible for ensuring that legal procedures and regulations in force are followed. The duties of the Chancellor of Justice only extend to legal matters and they do not cover the appropriateness or political assessment of decisions. The Chancellor of Justice must, when necessary, provide the governmental or presidential meetings with his legal opinion on an issue under discussion.
The supervision of the Government is, in practice, mainly anticipatory in nature. Presentation lists that are prepared in the ministries and serve as a basis for decision-making are sent to the Office of the Chancellor of Justice for confirmation prior to a Government meeting. This procedure is known as "confirmation of lists" and requires, quite often, negotiations with civil servants in the ministries involved and the issuing of opinions on the legal aspects of the matter. All errors observed in the process of confirming the lists are rectified prior to Government meetings and, when necessary, the handling of a matter may also be postponed.