PR Political Rights 40 40
CL Civil Liberties 60 60
Last Year's Score & Status
100 100 Free
Global freedom statuses are calculated on a weighted scale. See the methodology.

header1 Overview

Finland’s parliamentary system features free and fair elections and robust multiparty competition. Corruption is not a significant problem, and freedoms of speech, religion, and association are respected. The judiciary is independent under the constitution and in practice. Women and ethnic minority groups enjoy equal rights, though harassment, hate speech, and discrimination aimed at religious, racial, and ethnic minority groups does occur.

header2 Key Developments in 2022

  • Following significant pressure both in Finland and internationally, in September the government presented proposed legislation that would allow transgender and intersex people to more easily amend their legally recognized gender.
  • In June, Finland’s parliament passed a bill, which will take effect in the beginning of 2023, that redefines rape as any nonconsensual sexual act. The previous definition required violence or the threat of violence for a sexual act to be considered rape.

PR Political Rights

A Electoral Process

A1 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Was the current head of government or other chief national authority elected through free and fair elections? 4.004 4.004

The president, whose role is mainly ceremonial, is directly elected for up to two six-year terms. In 2018, former finance minister and incumbent president Sauli Niinistö, originally of the center-right National Coalition Party (KOK), won a second presidential term with 62.6 percent of the vote, defeating several challengers. The election was considered broadly free and fair.

The prime minister, the head of government, is selected by Finland’s freely elected parliament. Following parliamentary elections in April 2019, Antti Rinne of the Social Democratic Party became prime minister in June. However, he resigned due to criticism within the governing coalition over his handling of a postal workers’ strike in November 2019, and Sanna Marin was chosen by the party to replace him in December 2019.

A2 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Were the current national legislative representatives elected through free and fair elections? 4.004 4.004

Representatives in the 200-seat, unicameral parliament, the Eduskunta, are elected to serve four-year terms. Prior to the 2019 elections, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) expressed “a high level of confidence in all the aspects of the electoral process” and concluded that it was not necessary to send an election observation mission.

The Social Democratic Party won the largest share of the vote, taking 40 seats. The right-wing Finns Party placed second with 39 seats. The new government formed in June 2019 comprised the Social Democratic Party, the Center Party with 31 seats, the Green League with 20 seats, the Left Alliance with 16 seats, and the Swedish People’s Party of Finland with 9 seats. The remainder of seats went to KOK, which took 38, the Christian Democrats with 5, the new Movement Now with 1, and the Åland Coalition, also with 1.

A3 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Are the electoral laws and framework fair, and are they implemented impartially by the relevant election management bodies? 4.004 4.004

Finland’s electoral laws are robust and generally well implemented by the relevant authorities.

B Political Pluralism and Participation

B1 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do the people have the right to organize in different political parties or other competitive political groupings of their choice, and is the system free of undue obstacles to the rise and fall of these competing parties or groupings? 4.004 4.004

There are no significant constraints on political parties’ ability to organize and operate, and they compete freely in practice.

B2 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Is there a realistic opportunity for the opposition to increase its support or gain power through elections? 4.004 4.004

Finland regularly experiences peaceful transfers of power between rival political parties through elections, with governments typically consisting of multiparty coalitions.

B3 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Are the people’s political choices free from domination by forces that are external to the political sphere, or by political forces that employ extrapolitical means? 4.004 4.004

People’s political choices are generally free from undue interference by forces that are not democratically accountable.

B4 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do various segments of the population (including ethnic, racial, religious, gender, LGBT+, and other relevant groups) have full political rights and electoral opportunities? 4.004 4.004

Citizens from the Finnish majority and all ethnic minorities enjoy full political rights. The Åland Islands—an autonomous region located off the southwestern coast whose inhabitants speak Swedish—have their own 30-seat parliament, as well as one seat in the national legislature. The Sámi of northern Finland, an Indigenous people who number about 10,000, have a legislature with limited powers, but they do not have guaranteed representation in the parliament. Members of the Sámi community continue to call for greater inclusion in political decision-making processes.

Women and women’s interests are reasonably well represented in politics, as are LGBT+ people and their respective interests. Prime Minister Marin is the third woman to serve as Finland’s head of government. Her installation also marked the first time that all parties in a Finnish governing coalition were headed by women.

C Functioning of Government

C1 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do the freely elected head of government and national legislative representatives determine the policies of the government? 4.004 4.004

Finland’s freely elected government and lawmakers are generally able to develop and implement policy without undue interference from unelected entities.

C2 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Are safeguards against official corruption strong and effective? 4.004 4.004

Corruption is not a significant problem in Finland and is generally punished under relevant laws when discovered. In December 2020, the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) reported that Finland had only fully implemented 1 of its 14 recommended anticorruption efforts.

C3 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Does the government operate with openness and transparency? 4.004 4.004

Laws permitting access to public information are generally well enforced, though there are some limits on the disclosure of information related to national security, foreign affairs, trade secrets, and criminal investigations. All citizens, including government officials, are required by law to make public asset declarations, though there are no penalties for noncompliance. While companies perceive corruption risks and favoritism within public procurement as low, informal networks and personal associations, notably at the local level, are still believed to hold influence over procurement decisions.

CL Civil Liberties

D Freedom of Expression and Belief

D1 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Are there free and independent media? 4.004 4.004

Freedom of expression is protected by Article 12 of the constitution and the 2003 Act on the Exercise of Freedom of Expression in Mass Media. Media outlets in Finland are typically independent and free from political pressure or censorship, and the media environment is strong.

In March 2022, parliament approved an amendment to the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) law requiring the public service broadcaster to include video or audio with text-only news articles, reducing public access to free, quality journalism. A citizen petition against the law was not considered.

Journalists sometimes face harassment for their work, notably those who cover topics related to immigrants and immigration. Journalists also face the risk of defamation charges. In April 2019, investigative reporter Johanna Vehkoo was convicted of defaming a far-right politician and ordered to pay more than $7,000 in fines and compensation. The Finnish Supreme Court acquitted Vehkoo of the charges in January 2022, further strengthening Finland’s support of freedom of expression.

D2 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Are individuals free to practice and express their religious faith or nonbelief in public and private? 4.004 4.004

Religious freedom is guaranteed in the constitution and generally respected in practice.

However, far-right hate speech and incidents of vandalism directed at the Jewish and Muslim communities are ongoing concerns. Police note that religious discrimination remains a motivating factor for hate crimes.

In March 2022, the Helsinki District Court ruled in favor of Päivi Räsänen, a Finnish parliamentarian who was charged with spreading hate speech about the LGBT+ community. The court stated that her religiously based comments did not violate freedom of speech laws.

D3 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Is there academic freedom, and is the educational system free from extensive political indoctrination? 4.004 4.004

Academic freedom is generally respected.

D4 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Are individuals free to express their personal views on political or other sensitive topics without fear of surveillance or retribution? 4.004 4.004

There are few impediments to personal expression, and the authorities are not known to engage in improper surveillance of personal communications.

E Associational and Organizational Rights

E1 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Is there freedom of assembly? 4.004 4.004

Freedom of assembly is protected by law and upheld in practice.

In October 2020, police used pepper spray against protesters obstructing traffic, who were associated with the environmental activist group Extinction Rebellion and calling on the government to take more significant measures to combat the climate crisis. Seven police officers were charged in connection with the incident in June 2022.

As of early 2022, 48 protesters were being investigated for invasion of public premises.

E2 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Is there freedom for nongovernmental organizations, particularly those that are engaged in human rights– and governance-related work? 4.004 4.004

Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) operate without restriction.

E3 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Is there freedom for trade unions and similar professional or labor organizations? 4.004 4.004

Workers have the right to organize and bargain collectively, though public-sector workers who provide services deemed essential may not strike. Approximately 75 percent of workers belong to trade unions, which actively advocate for members’ interests. In September, parliament passed the Patient Safety Act, which restricts nurses’ right to strike. It nearly led to mass resignations within the nursing sector, and suggests attempts to restrict the right to organize within some sectors.

F Rule of Law

F1 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Is there an independent judiciary? 4.004 4.004

The constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the courts operate without political interference in practice.

F2 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Does due process prevail in civil and criminal matters? 4.004 4.004

Due process is generally respected in Finland. Authorities largely uphold safeguards against arbitrary arrest and detention and provide the conditions for fair trials.

F3 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Is there protection from the illegitimate use of physical force and freedom from war and insurgencies? 4.004 4.004

There are few significant threats to physical security, and violent crime is uncommon, although it has increased in recent years.

F4 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do laws, policies, and practices guarantee equal treatment of various segments of the population? 4.004 4.004

The constitution guarantees the Sámi people cultural autonomy and the right to pursue their culturally significant livelihoods, which include fishing and reindeer herding. However, representatives of the community have said that they cannot fully exercise their rights in practice and face restrictions on land use. In April 2022, the Finnish Supreme Court dismissed two ongoing cases against the Finnish Sámi people that claimed they were violating Finnish fishing rules. The court ruled in favor of the Sámi people’s constitutional right to practice their traditional fishing culture.

Women enjoy equal legal rights but suffer from pay discrimination.

A June 2019 report by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) noted an increase in racist and intolerant hate speech in Finland, especially toward Muslims and refugees. Hate speech on the internet was also a concern, with targets including immigrants, people of African descent, LGBT+ people, the Jewish community, and Roma. ECRI’s recommendations had not been implemented as of March 2022. From mid-2021 to mid-2022, Finnish authorities appointed a working group to assess the need for reforms to the Non-Discrimination Act. A proposal for strengthening the Non-Discrimination Act was presented to Finland’s parliament in September 2022 and a partial amendment was approved in November.

A 2020 report by Finland’s nondiscrimination ombudsman highlighted racism against people of African descent. In September 2021, the Finnish Ministry of Justice and the Equality Commissioner launched a campaign encouraging people to take action against racism.

A July 2022 report on equality by the nondiscrimination ombudsman highlighted that many people still experience discrimination in Finland, most notably based on disability and ethnic origin.

G Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights

G1 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do individuals enjoy freedom of movement, including the ability to change their place of residence, employment, or education? 4.004 4.004

Individuals in Finland are free to travel abroad and domestically. The country has one of the most expansive “freedom to roam” policies in the world, allowing people to use any public or private land for recreational purposes so long as the privacy of a private residence is not violated, and no environmental damage is incurred. There are no undue restrictions on people’s ability to change their place of residence, education, or employment.

G2 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Are individuals able to exercise the right to own property and establish private businesses without undue interference from state or nonstate actors? 4.004 4.004

Intellectual and property rights are upheld. There are no major obstacles to establishing a business, and the country boasts a well-regulated, transparent, and open economy.

G3 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do individuals enjoy personal social freedoms, including choice of marriage partner and size of family, protection from domestic violence, and control over appearance? 4.004 4.004

People’s choices on personal status matters are for the most part unrestricted. Same-sex marriage has been allowed since 2017. However, legislation requires that transgender people be sterilized and have a mental health diagnosis in order to obtain legal recognition of their gender. In 2017, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) called for Finland to eliminate these impediments to legal gender recognition. The ECRI echoed this call in 2019. In early 2022, Prime Minister Marin said that the government would vote on a bill to overturn these requirements later in the year, and in September the government submitted a proposal for an act addressing the legal recognition of gender.

Legislation permitting in vitro fertilization and artificial insemination was enacted in 2007, but surrogacy remains illegal for both opposite and same-sex couples.

The government submitted a proposal to reform the section of the criminal code that addresses sexual offenses to define rape as a nonconsensual act and it was adopted by the parliament in June 2022. However, there are complaints that sexual offenses are not properly investigated by the police. Rates of violence against women remain high. There are not substantial frameworks or procedures to address domestic violence, nor long-term support for survivors. A March 2022 Amnesty International report found that less than half of all municipalities have gender-based violence prevention programs.

G4 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do individuals enjoy equality of opportunity and freedom from economic exploitation? 4.004 4.004

The authorities generally uphold protections against exploitative working conditions. Asylum seekers and migrants are most vulnerable to sex and labor trafficking. The government actively prosecutes trafficking offenses, and survivors have access to protection and assistance. However, alleged perpetrators often receive lighter charges and penalties due to lack of specialized training for investigators. The US State Department’s 2022 Trafficking in Persons Report assigned Finland Tier 1 status, its highest ranking, noting that Finland continued to investigate and convict more traffickers.

On Finland

See all data, scores & information on this country or territory.

See More
  • Global Freedom Score

    100 100 free