Constitutional Courts in a Changing Landscape
Studies in Comparative Law and Legal Culture series
Edited by John Bell and Marie-Luce Paris
Chapter 5 on Finland (‘Intermediate constitutional review in Finland: promising in theory, problematic in practice’) offers the perspective of a Nordic system. Although its legal culture is based on the civil law tradition, the Finnish system arguably lends itself to relevant parallels with the new Commonwealth model of constitutionalism. Authors Juha Lavapuro, Tuomas Ojanen and Martin Scheinin explain the developments—notably Finland joining the EU and the Strasbourg system as well as other domestic constitutional reforms—which resulted in a shift from a centralized legislative-based constitutionalism to an institutionally pluralist and predominantly rights-based paradigm. However, they also argue that this shift has fallen short of materializing into fully-fledged constitutionalism. In that respect, the Finnish system stands as a ‘peculiar example of intermediate constitutionalism’ characterized by a tension between old doctrines and institutions which emphasize the legislative supremacy of Parliament—with an intact prohibition of judicial review of legislation—and a new paradigm which underline the importance of rights and the role of courts. The authors then question the extent to which the Finnish system offers a genuine third alternative of constitutional review. Indeed, the transformation of the system has resulted in institutional confusion—with the main constitutional actors missing a clear understanding of their role—rather than led to a meaningful constitutional dialogue between the courts and the legislature.
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