The Diet of Finland (Finnish Suomen maapäivät, later valtiopäivät; Swedish Finlands Lantdagar), was the legislative assembly of the Grand Duchy of Finland from 1809 to 1906 and the recipient of the powers of the Swedish Riksdag of the Estates. The term valtiopäivät today means an annual session of the Parliament of Finland, the Swedish Riksdagen being the name for both the Parliament and its sessions.
The first States of Finland were held in Helsinki in 1616. Other assemblies (Åbo lantdag) where held in Turku for example in 1676. The assembly was called together by Axel Julius De la Gardie. The estate of peasants was chaired by Heikki Heikinpoika Vaanila.
During the Finnish War between Sweden and Russia, the four Estates of occupied Finland (Nobility, Clergy, Bourgeoisie and Peasants) were assembled at Porvoo (Borgå) by Tsar Alexander I, the new Grand Duke of Finland, between 25 March and 19 July 1809. The central event at Porvoo was the sovereign pledge and the oaths of the Estates in Porvoo Cathedral on 29 March. Each of the Estates swore their oaths of allegiance, committing themselves to accepting the Emperor and Grand Duke of Finland as the true authority, and to keeping the constitution and the form of government unchanged. Alexander I subsequently promised to govern Finland in accordance with its laws. This was thought to essentially mean that the emperor confirmed the Swedish Instrument of Government from 1772 as the constitution of Finland, although it was also interpreted to mean respecting the existing codes and statutes. The diet had required that it would be convened again after the Finnish War, which separated Finland from Sweden, had been concluded. On 17 September that year, the conflict was settled by the Treaty of Fredrikshamn, but it would be another five decades until the Finnish Estates would be called again.
Not until June 1863, after the Crimean War had taken place, did Alexander II call the Estates again. On 18 September the opening ceremony was held and the Emperor made his declaration where he promised to introduce changes to the constitution. The changes included making the diet a regularly convening body, a promise which was kept by the Emperor when the diet convened again in January 1867, where it established an act on the working order of the diet. The diet was to convene at least every fifth year but in practice it would come to convene every third year. The act on Freedom of the Press was seen to have been rejected by the diet in 1867, and as a consequence censorship was introduced. The diets of the 1860s created a working and regularly convening Finnish parliament, but it also spelled an end to further promised constitutional reforms.
In the elections for the diet of 1872, members of the two language-based parties, the Fennomans and Svecomans, gained more ground at the expense of the liberals. After the assassination of Alexander II the special position of Finland in the Russian empire was in danger. Alexander III announced that the Finnish monetary, customs and postal systems were to be incorporated into their imperial counterparts. At the diet of 1882 the Governor-General gave the Emperors announcement that the diet would have the right to submit bills, but he would be the only one to initiate changes regarding the constitution and military issues.
In 1899 Grand Duke Nicholas II signed what came to be known as the February Manifesto. The powers of the diet regarding Finland's internal affairs were weakened and transferred to the Russian ministers. The legal committee of the diet of 1899 adopted the opinion that the manifesto was not legally valid in Finland.
The unrest during the Russo-Japanese War resulted in a general strike in Finland in October 1905. The most immediate result was the Emperor's manifesto that cancelled all illegal regulations. A parliament based on universal and equal suffrage was also promised. An extraordinary session of the diet in December 1905 was called to implement the parliamentary reforms. The proposal was presented to the Emperor on 15 March 1906 and after his approval it was submitted to the estates on 9 May. The reforms came to force on 1 October 1906. The diet was reformed from a legislative assembly of four Estates into a unicameral parliament of 200 members. At the same time universal suffrage was introduced, which gave all men and women, 24 years or older, the right to vote and stand for election. Acts on the right of parliament to monitor members of the government, on the Freedom of Speech, Assembly and Association, and Freedom of the Press were also introduced. These reforms established the hallmarks of today's Parliament of Finland. The first election to the new parliament was arranged in 1907.
From 1869 to 1906 the Diet of Finland was composed as follows:
All chambers debated separately. Ordinarily there were no joint sessions, and while it was possible to arrange a joint debating session where voting was however not permitted, such sessions were only arranged twice in the history of the Diet. Three chambers had to pass the bill before it could be approved by the Emperor. However, consensus was sought in joint committees, and in case of disagreements, a committee was set to reconcile the differences between the versions passed by different chambers. Any bill affecting the privileges of an estate could be passed only with the consent of that estate. All four chambers had to agree in order to modify constitutional laws.
List of sessions of the Finnish diet.
The Diet of Finland, and the four estates of which it was composed, met in a number of different locations during its existence. In the 1860s, all the estates met in the Finnish House of Nobility. Whilst the Nobility of Finland continued to meet there until 1906, the three commoner estates later met in other locations, such as in 1888, when they met in the new building of the Ateneum Art Museum. From 1891 until the parliamentary reform of 1906 the three commoner estates of Clergy, Bourgeoisie and Peasants met in the newly built House of the Estates (Finnish Säätytalo, Swedish Ständerhuset). However, the meeting rooms of the house were too small for the 200-member unicameral parliament. The house has since seen sporadic use by the state and regular use by scientific and scholarly organizations.
|Diet||Nobility's Lantmarskalk||Clergy's Archbishop||Bourgeoisie's speaker||Peasants speaker|
|Diet of 1809||Robert Wilhelm De Geer||Jacob Tengström||Kristian Trapp||Pehr Klockars|
|Diet of 1863||Johan Mauritz Nordenstam||Edvard Bergenheim||Robert Isidor Örn||Aukusti Mäkipeska|
|Diet of 1867||Johan Mauritz Nordenstam||Edvard Bergenheim||Frans Wilhelm Frenckell||Aukusti Mäkipeska|
|Diet of 1872||Johan Mauritz Nordenstam||Edvard Bergenheim||H. W. J. Zilliacus||Aukusti Mäkipeska|
|Diet of 1877||Johan August von Born||Edvard Bergenheim||Alexander R. Frey -14.6.1877
Georg Wallgren 14.6.1877-
|Carl Johan Slotte|
|Diet of 1882||Samuel Werner von Troil||Anders Johan Hornborg||Lorenz Lindelöf||Carl Johan Slotte|
|Diet of 1885||Samuel Werner von Troil||Torsten Thure Renvall||Joachim Kurtén||Carl Johan Slotte|
|Diet of 1888||Victor von Haartman||Torsten Thure Renvall||Joachim Kurtén||Carl Johan Slotte|
|Diet of 1891||Victor von Haartman||Torsten Thure Renvall||Joachim Kurtén||Carl Johan Slotte|
|Diet of 1894||Lars Teodor von Hellens||Torsten Thure Renvall||Joachim Kurtén||Kaarle Wärri|
|Diet of 1897||Samuel Werner von Troil||?||Joachim Kurtén||Kaarle Wärri|
|Diet of 1899||Samuel Werner von Troil||Gustaf Johansson||Joachim Kurtén||Kaarle Wärri|
|Diet of 1900||Lorenz Lindelöf||Gustaf Johansson||Felix Heikel||Kaarle Ojanen|
|Diet of 1904-1905||Constantin Linder (1904), Ossian Wuorenheimo (acting 1904, officially 1905)||Gustaf Johansson||Hugo Lilius||Kaarle Ojanen|
|Diet of 1905-1906||Viktor Magnus von Born||Gustaf Johansson||Leonard von Pfaler||Pekka Aulin |