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Parliament can decide on Nato membership by simple majority, committee finds

The final vote can also take place before Hungary and Turkey's ratification, the Constitutional Committee ruled.

Johanna Ojala-Niemelä puhujapöntössä.
According to Constitutional Law Committee chair Johanna Ojala-Niemelä, Nato membership would not alter Finland's national authority to such an extent that a two-thirds majority would be required. Image: Juuso Stoor / Yle
Yle News

Parliament can make the final decision on whether Finland joins the Nato military alliance based on a simple majority, following a ruling by the Constitutional Law Committee announced on Thursday.

"We felt that this transfer of powers to Nato is not significant enough to require a two-thirds majority," Committee chair Johanna Ojala-Niemelä said of the decision.

The vote on Finland's membership of the European Union, in 1994, had to be decided by a two-thirds majority.

In its assessment, the committee emphasised that Finland would continue to retain legislative, judicial and budget-related powers, even after joining the alliance.

The fact that all Nato decisions are made by consensus further contributed to the committee's verdict.

The next steps on Finland's accession process involve the drafting of a report by the Committee of Foreign Affairs, which will form the basis of parliament's vote.

So far, 28 of Nato's 30 current members have given a green light to the Finnish and Swedish applications. Turkey and Hungary are the only countries that are yet to do so.

There has been some speculation over whether Finland could vote on the matter before full ratification by the 30 members. Based on Thursday's ruling, an early vote would be possible.

Speaker of Parliament Matti Vanhanen (Centre) and Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Jussi Halla-aho (Finns) are among those to suggest, however, that the matter be left to the next Parliament to decide, if Hungary and Turkey have not made their decision before then.

The Constitutional Law Committee's ruling did not outline when the vote should take place.

"We consider that there is no obstacle to either course of action. If Parliament wishes, it can table the question before Hungary and Turkey ratify. But it's also possible for that to be done after the elections," Ojala-Niemelä said.

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