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Finnish MPs approve fast-track changes to constitution

Lawmakers can now move forward with plans to expand Finland's surveillance laws before next spring's election.

File photo of Finland's Parliament House. Image: Yle News

On Wednesday Finnish lawmakers voted 178 to 13 to fast-track a change to the country's constitution. The move enables the government to go forward with plans to broaden surveillance laws before its term ends next spring.

The draft surveillance bill introduces new powers for intelligence officers aimed at defending national security. It limits the confidentiality of communications by, for instance, allowing the authorities to open mail if they believe national security is threatened. The change provides a framework for Finland to conduct civil and military intelligence work.

Constitutional change fast-tracked

Under normal circumstances, constitutional changes require the approval of two consecutive governments.

However, Wednesday's vote quickened that process, enabling a vote on implementing enhanced surveillance laws before general elections are held in April.

As lawmakers voted 178 to 13 on Wednesday, they reached the 5/6 majority needed to make the constitutional change in just one round.

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