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Marjo Timonen

Marjo Hannele Timonen
Born April 29, 1955, Kurikka

Bachelor of Arts 1983, Master of Arts 1984 (Finnish history, general history, political science, journalism), University of Helsinki

Director of information and communication 2007–, Parliament of Finland
Head of information 2003–07, Parliament of Finland
Special advisor 1994–95, Prime Minister’s Office
Head of communications 1993–2002, Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities
Head of communications 1988–93, Finnish Municipal Association
Head of communications 1986–87, Insaider Oy
Press officer 1985–86, University of Joensuu
Chairman 1980–81, National Union of University Students in Finland

Photo: Hanne Salonen
Written by Marjo Timonen (Kaija Hartikainen, ed.)
Translated by Matthew Billington

The Most Transparent Parliament in the World

The Parliament of Finland is the most transparent parliament in the world. Everyone has the chance to follow plenary sessions and committee meetings online. Documents are widely published and plenary sessions are broadcasted live on the website.

Students are the most important visitors to the Parliament. Photo by Vesa Lindqvist, the Parliament photo archive.

One reason for the transparency is the freedom the media is accorded in covering the workings of Parliament. In no other Parliament are members of the press allowed to move as freely. Thorough news coverage of parliamentary proceedings is essential to democracy. Much of the publicity work of the Cabinet is also done at Parliament House when ministers give comments to the press.

Transparency, access to information and interaction in the Parliamentary Office are further improved by the Information and Communication Unit, which I lead. Our services include media and online communication, visits, citizen info, public events, as well as information, library and archive services.

There is always something going on at the Parliament, whether it is plenary sessions, committee meetings, foreign dignitaries, or political activity related to parliamentary groups or members of parliament. As far as work environments go, it is the most public and transparent in our country.

The director of legislation Maija-Leena Paavola and the director of information and communication Marjo Timonen on their way to the opening of Parliament. Photo by Hanne Salonen, the Parliament photo archive.

On the schedule of the 2015 autumn sessions are the state budget and budgetary legislation, the pension package, cost competitiveness, key projects, hate crimes and racism, foreign policy, two citizen initiatives, and an interpellation on education and the status of pensioners. The most interesting visitors of the beginning of the term have been the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, John Boehner, with his delegation.

During my time at the Parliament, I have worked closely with five different Speakers: Riitta Uosukainen, Paavo Lipponen, Sauli Niinistö, Eero Heinäluoma and Maria Lohela.

Speaker’s Council with its officials meet every time a plenary session is held. The council consists of speakers and the chairmen of the committees. Photo by Vesa Lindqvist, the Parliament photo archive.

One of the charms of this line of work is that when you wake up in the morning you never know what the day will bring, and when evening comes, you will know in advance many of the stories that will be covered on the news.

I particularly remember two pieces of advice Seppo Tiitinen, the General Secretary of the Parliament, gave me when I started working in 2003: “The work of a parliamentary official is a way of life,” and “you do your work well, otherwise you are just wasting time.” One of the best things about what I do is that parliamentary officials are extremely dedicated to their work, and using your own head is encouraged.

Press conference on the formation of the current government. Photo by Hanne Salonen, the Parliament photo archive.


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