Finland in the 1960’s

By | December 17, 2021

The increase in the war potential of Denmark and Norway, with their increased participation in the NATO system, caused the most serious crisis in Finno-Soviet relations in 1961 after years of loyalty to the Paasikivi line. The USSR’s request for urgent consultations (provided for by Article 2 of the 1948 Treaty) would have led to a relocation of Soviet land, naval and air contingents to Finnish bases. The request was canceled after an interview between President Kekkonen and Prime Minister Khrushchev, which resulted in the renewal of the five-year agreement between the two countries: the agreement, with an increase in trade by 25%, constituted a new political pressure from the USSR to prevent Finland from joining the EEC.

The political crisis that hit the Finland at the beginning of the sixties originated from the internal situation, where the agrarian party of President Kekkonen dominated, with 54 deputies obtained in the consultation of 1962. Faced with the agrarians there was an array of bourgeois forces which, while strong, it was characterized in various ways: it was made up of the Conservative Party (32 seats), the Swedish People’s Party (14 seats) and the Finnish People’s Party (11 seats). On the left was the Communist Party (47 seats), consistent but unable to provide alternatives, and the Social Democratic Party, which still felt the effects of the Second World War and the exit of the most radical wing in 1958. The statement of the center-right was largely attributed to the crisis in Finnish-Soviet relations. For Finland 2019, please check

In 1965, with the advent of an agrarian prime minister in Norway, Finland proposed a non-aggression pact between Helsinki and Oslo to be enforced, since there is no possibility of clash between the two countries, in the event of conflict between the great powers. The project had the function of limiting the Atlantic commitments of Norway and the Finnish ones towards the USSR, and therefore lighten the opposition between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, characterizing Finnish politics in an effectively neutralist sense. The parliamentary elections of 1966 brought the Social Democratic party back to the fore (from 38 to 56 seats), demonstrating the prevalence of domestic political problems: the international position of Finland, in fact, was no longer so exceptional as to induce Moscow to intervene heavily. Social Democracy had been favored by abandonment of pro-Atlanticism to the advantage of the Paasikivi line and already the administrative offices of 1964 had made it possible to foresee a strong recovery for the party headed by R. Passio. The other parties had generally regressed: the Communists from 47 to 42, the agrarians from 53 to 49, the Conservatives from 32 to 25, the Liberals from 14 to 8, the Swedish People’s Party from 14 to 12. The mandate was entrusted to Paasio who, after a long crisis (March-May), set up the new cabinet in the imminence of Kosygin’s trip (13-18 June 1966). In 1968 Kekkonen was reconfirmed for the third consecutive time, while the elections of 1970 led to a new and clear shift to the right of the Finnish political axis, rewarding more a newly formed party: the agrarians of Vennamo (from 1 to 18 seats) who they had separated from the Agrarian Party. After a new and long crisis, President Kekkonen went to the USSR for the early renewal of the twenty-year Finno-Soviet friendship pact (1970-1990); but Finnish aspirations for total neutrality were again thwarted. The crisis that began in 1971 with the withdrawal of the three communist ministers ended with the early elections of 1972 which, however, did not bring the necessary clarification. In February a Social Democratic single-party headed by Paasio was formed while in September the negotiations for the recognition of the German Democratic Republic and therefore of the two Germanys as independent states were concluded. In the context of good relations with the Eastern countries, the leader Husák was invited in 1974 to visit the country. The Finnish industrial structure, essentially of transformation, has suffered a severe blow due to the increase in energy prices, mostly coming from the Soviet Union. The need to obtain crude oil forced Helsinki to intensify trade with the USSR, thus accentuating its economic dependence: in September 1975, President Kekkonen signed an agreement in Moscow for the creation of large companies by Finnish companies. buildings (Svetogorsk paper mill and construction of the mining town in Kostamus). The economic crisis determined, on the internal level, the resignation of the coalition led by the Social Democrat Kalevi Sorsa: a business cabinet was set up, the use of early elections (September 1975) remained without a precise indication of the electorate. A coalition including the Communists and headed by Martti Miettunen remained in office until September 1976 when he resigned for the second time and definitively. The economic crisis has taken on decisive importance: an inflation rate of 18%, a hundred thousand unemployed, a serious deficit in the balance of payments. A center-right coalition obtained an indirect investiture from the October 1976 local elections, which saw a considerable increase in the Conservative party, which moved into second place (after the Social Democrats) in the Finnish parliament.

Finland in the 1960's