FIIA’s REMIT researcher Eoin McNamara has taken time beginning of this year to explain in an op-ed what the change of power in the Finnish presidential election means for Finland’s international position, particularly within the context of the country newly joining NATO.

Eoin comments: “Historically, Finnish presidents have held a defining role when deciding the country’s foreign policy, although this power has been diluted by constitutional amendments in 1991, 2000 and 2012 respectively. Newly elected in February 2024, under President Alexander Stubb, Finland will be resolutely on the side of liberal democracy, supporting the Western response to Russia’s brutal aggression in Ukraine. As a NATO newcomer, Stubb will ensure that Finland takes a central place within the alliance.”


Finland has a semi-presidential system of government where the President of Finland has comparatively more power over foreign and security policy compared to many more ceremonial presidencies in other Western democracies. Under the current Constitution of Finland, the president has responsibility to lead in foreign policy in cooperation with the parliamentary government led by the prime minister. The president is also the Supreme Commander of the Finnish Defence Forces (FDF). Technically, the president has the power to make military orders and decide how the FDF is organised. The president officially commissions military officers. However, these powers must be administered in cooperation with the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence and, in practice, the vast majority of military and defence legislation is defined by the Parliament of Finland. In addition to the power to appoint and dismiss the parliamentary government and its ministers, the president ultimately decides the personnel for some of Finland’s leading civil service positions. 

Full Citation

Eoin Micheál McNamara, “Stubb’s Election as President to Anchor Finland at the Centre of NATO”, Dublin City University (DCU) Brexit Institute Blog, February 2024.

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