MPs approve constitutional change for new intelligence laws

Overwhelming majority for the government on constitutional change, but some parties and individual MPs held out.

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File picture of parliament chamber, September 2018 / Credit: News Now Finland

Members of Parliament have voted overwhelmingly to approve new legislation, which the government says will better equip law enforcement agencies to face potential security threats.

The legislation was fast-tracked through parliament, and won with a Wednesday afternoon vote 178 for, and only 13 against.

Usually, changes to the constitution require approval from two consecutive parliaments, but can be approved by just one parliament if five out of six MPs give it the green light.

For / against the new legislation

The constitutional change, which allows for example security services to intercept email communications, was backed by the government and most opposition parties.

“Great for such broad support in parliament” writes Antti Pelttari, the head of Finland’s Security Police Supo on Twitter.

“The Finnish constitution is now being amended to reflect European practice, in which national security, in addition to crime prevention, justifies [intercepting] confidential communications” he adds.

The Left Alliance voted against the legislation, and party leader Li Andersson previously told News Now Finland that the legislation was “legally complicated”.

“Lawmakers have to balance different values that are important to society: security and the basic rights of citizens” she said at the beginning of 2018.

The Finns Party voted with the government at the last moment, but their vice chair Laura Huhtasaari was absent from the chamber for the vote. During her 2018 presidential campaign she said she was against the new legislation.

Swedish People’s Party MP, and 2012 presidential candidate, Eva Biaudet also voted against the constitutional change.