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Registered: 01-2008
Location: Finland
Posts: 8497
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History of presidential elections in Finland


Inspired by the American events, I started looking into this deeper than what high school history lessons taught.
There have been variety of exceptions to the normal order of things, with only 14 full proper elections of the 20 times a president has been decided for Finland.


Our first constitution, due certain delays like Civil War, was created 1919. The parliament chose - in a very tight voting - K.J. Ståhlberg as our first president. He worked full 6-year term, to be replaced in first real election 1925 by Lauri K. Relander, who in turn 1931 by P.E. Svinhufvud and he similarly 1937 by Kyösti Kallio.

That's when things got funny. Obviously because WWII, but also because Kallio became ill and died very soon after resigning 1940. Although at the time there was temporary peace - pretty certainly known to be temporary at that point - it would've been impractical to have full elections in de facto wartime conditions and instead Risto Ryti was chosen by the electors from 1937.
I'm not certain of details, but assume he was elected to finish Kallio's term as the same was repeated 1943, with Ryti re-elected.
1944 Ryti was forced to resign to pave way for peace treaty with Soviet Union. At this point arranging elections was impossible and parliament wrote a special law to appoint [sign in to see URL] Mannerheim. I'm not certain of details, but possibly it was decided to begin with that he would serve only 2 years; either that or he resigned 1946, after all major negotiations with Soviet Union were finished.
1946 J.K. Paasikivi was chosen by parliament, similarly to 1919, except apparently he was set to finish 6-year term started by Mannerheim.

After that it got more regular. Paasikivi was re-elected 1950 in normal election and lost barely 1956 to Urho Kekkonen, who was re-elected 1962 and 1968.
Then we get to last real anomaly. After 18 years of precidensy, Kekkonen was hugely popular.

1974 parliament did what in most countries would be a very bad sign: they decided to skip elections and appoint Kekkonen to continue 4 more years with a special law. In principle, this is scary and disturbing; but looking practically, there was no question that Kekkonen would've been re-elected and it would've been just waste of money and time. Though it is also true that back the president wielded more power than now - the era is even jokingly referred as "Kekkoslovakia" - and no party wanted to antagonize Kekkonen by running a campaign against him.
1978 Kekkonen was elected once more, only to resign 1981 for fading health.

After Mauno Koivisto was elected 1982, there was debate over method of elections and it was decided to change to direct election by popular vote. Koivisto's re-election 1988 was a compromise: had he won over 50% of popular vote on first round that would've been enough, but following second round was last time elector system was used.
Since then it's been a direct two-round elections: 1994 Ahtisaari, 2000 and 2006 Halonen and 2012 Niinistö.
At some point during Koivisto's precidensy a limitation to two term was created.

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Sep/1/2016, 19:35 Link to this post Send PM to Kaunisto
 


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