Parliamentary sovereignty

Parliamentary sovereignty (also called parliamentary supremacy or legislative supremacy) is a concept in the constitutional law of some parliamentary democracies. It holds that the legislative body has absolute sovereignty, and is supreme over all other government institutions, including executive or judicial bodies. The concept also holds that the legislative body may change or repeal any previous legislation, and so that it is not bound by written law (in some cases, even a constitution) or by precedent. Parliamentary sovereignty may be contrasted with the doctrines of separation of powers, which limits the legislature's scope often to general law-making, and judicial review, where laws passed by the legislature may be declared invalid in certain circumstances. Many states have sovereign legislatures, among which are the United Kingdom, Finland, Israel, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and others. According to the constitution of Finland sovereign power lies with the people, represented by the parliament. As the highest organ of government the parliament holds supreme legislative power and can override a presidential veto and alter the constitution. There is no constitutional court and the supreme court does not have an explicit right to declare a law unconstitutional. By principle, the constitutionality of laws in Finland is verified by a simple vote in the parliament. However, the Constitutional Law Committee of the parliament reviews any doubtful bills and recommends changes, if needed. In practice, the Constitutional Law Committee fulfils the duties of a constitutional court. In addition to preview by the Constitutional Law Committee, all Finnish courts f law have the obligation to give precedence to the constitution when there is an obvious conflict between the Constitution and a regular law. The power to alter and amend the constitution is vested with the parliament, requiring approval either by a two-thirds majority in a single parliament if the proposed alteration is first declared to be urgent by a five-sixths majority of the same parliament, or by a slower procedure of first passing the amendment by a simple majority in the then current parliament and then passing the amendment by a two-thirds majority in the following parliament that convenes after a general election. A Finnish peculiarity is that the parliament can make exceptions to the constitution in ordinary laws that are enacted in the same procedure as constitutional amendments. An example of such a law is the State of Preparedness Act which gives the Council of State certain exceptional powers in cases of national emergency. As these powers, which correspond to U.S. executive orders, affect constitutional basic rights, the law was enacted in the same manner as a constitutional amendment. However, it can be repealed in the same manner as an ordinary law. Executive power is shared by the President of the Republic and the cabinet. The latter must rely on the confidence of parliament. From the independence of Finland in 1917 up to the constitutional reform of 1999, the president held considerable executive powers, and in particular was able to call a re-election of the parliament at will. In order to strengthen the role of the parliament as the highest organ of government, the constitutional reform constrained most of the presidential powers to be exercised only on the advice of the cabinet.