The province of the Aland Islands enjoys considerable autonomy by virtue of the Autonomy Act of 1951 that guarantees the way of life and the preservation of Swedish traditions on the islands. The 1951 law was supplemented by a 1975 law that restricts the acquisition of real estate on the islands. Both laws have constitutional status, and they may be altered only in accordance with the strict parliamentary provisions that protect the Constitution.
In addition to this protection against legislation prejudicial to its interests, the archipelago's provincial assembly, the Landsting, has the right to ratify laws affecting it. The Landsting consists of thirty members elected on the basis of proportional representation for four-year terms. Voters must be eighteen years of age by the year of the election and must have the right of domicile on the islands, a right acquired by living for at least five years in the province. Those with this right may also exercise certain professions and may acquire real estate, and they may not be conscripted if they have been residents of the islands since before their twelfth year. This last provision resulted from the demilitarized and neutral status of the islands established by a decision of the League of Nations in 1921.
The Landsting has the right to pass laws that touch on administration, provincial taxation, police matters, transportation, health care, and cultural matters. Issues relating to the Constitution, national defense, foreign affairs, the judiciary, family law, and civil law are outside its competence. All laws passed by the Landsting must be approved by the president of the republic, who may veto those laws judged to exceed the Landsting's competence or to damage the country's internal or external security.
The highest executive authority in the province is the Provincial Executive Council, consisting of seven members elected by, and from within, the Landsting. The council must enjoy the confidence of the Landsting to carry out its duties, and the president of the council can be forced to resign if this is not the case.
The governor of the province represents the national government. He is appointed by the president of the republic, but only after the approval of the Landsting, and is responsible for those administrative functions beyond the competence of provincial authorities. Another link between the islands and the national government is the Aland Delegation, usually headed by the provincial governor; its other four members are chosen by the Council of State and the Landsting. The delegation's chief duties are supervising transfers of funds from the national government to the provincial government, to pay for the costs of selfgovernment , and examining laws passed by the Landsting, before sending them to the president. In addition to these ties between the archipelago and the mainland, the province has one representative in the Eduskunta who usually has a seat on the Constitutional Committee in order to protect the islands' rights. Since 1970 the province has had one delegate at the annual meeting of the Nordic Council.
During the late 1980s, changes of a constitutional nature in the relations between the Aland Islands and the national government were under review in the Eduskunta. The projected legislation touched on increased provincial control of the taxes the archipelago pays or generates and on greater control over radio and television reception, with the aim of increasing access to programming from Sweden and to the Swedish-language programs of the Finnish broadcasting system. Having secured the right to issue their own stamps in 1984, the archipelago's inhabitants also wanted to have their own postal system, a right still reserved to the national government. Under discussion, too, were international guarantees for the islands' security.
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