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Uutissuomalainen: Parties not keen on shorter presidential terms

Finland’s presidents currently serve for six years between elections.

Tasavallan presidentti Sauli Niinistö ja rouva Jenni Haukio poseeraavat presidenttiparin kuvauksessa ennen itsenäisyyspäivän vastaanottoa Helsingissä 6. joulukuuta 2018
President Sauli Niinistö (left) is not slated to leave office until 2024. Image: Markku Ulander / Lehtikuva

Finland’s president Sauli Niinistö recently suggested shortening the current six-year term presidents serve when elected, but the country’s political parties don’t think it’s a worthwhile suggestion.

A survey by the Uutissuomalainen outlet found little support for shorter terms in office among the chairs of the nine parliamentary parties.

Only the small Movement Now group supported Niinistö’s suggestion. The SDP, National Coalition, Centre Party and Swedish People’s Party were all opposed.

One reason was that the current six-year terms offer continuity in foreign policy, for which the president is responsible.

"One big problem we have these days is short-termism, and shortening the president’s term in office could be a small step in the wrong direction on that front," said Kai Mykkänen, who chairs the National Coalition group in parliament and even proposed lengthening parliamentary terms from the current four years to five.

The Finns Party and Christian Democrats said they would look into the matter, the Greens did not express a preference, and the Left Alliance did not answer the question.

"In my opinion, it is at least worth discussing," said Finns Party caucus leader Ville Tavio. "I intend to find out what citizens think about the issue."

Niinistö has repeatedly suggested shortening presidential terms, with different options including five-year terms with a two-term limit and four-year terms with a three-term limit.

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