Ahti Karjalainen

Last updated
Ahti Karjalainen
Karjalainen in 1980.
28th Prime Minister of Finland [1]
In office
15 July 1970 29 October 1971
President Urho Kekkonen
Deputy Veikko Helle
Preceded by Teuvo Aura
Succeeded byTeuvo Aura
In office
13 April 1962 18 December 1963
President Urho Kekkonen
Deputy Johannes Virolainen
Preceded by Martti Miettunen
Succeeded by Reino R. Lehto
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
4 September 1972 13 June 1975
Prime Minister Kalevi Sorsa
Preceded byKalevi Sorsa
Succeeded by Olavi J. Mattila
In office
12 September 1964 14 May 1970
Prime MinisterJohannes Virolainen
Rafael Paasio
Mauno Koivisto
Preceded by Jaakko Hallama
Succeeded by Väinö Leskinen
In office
19 June 1961 13 April 1962
Prime Minister V. J. Sukselainen
Martti Miettunen
Preceded by Ralf Törngren
Succeeded by Veli Merikoski
Minister of Trade and Industry
In office
13 January 1959 19 June 1961
Prime MinisterV. J. Sukselainen
Preceded by Onni Hiltunen
Succeeded by Björn Westerlund
Deputy Prime Minister of Finland
In office
29 September 1976 15 May 1977
Prime MinisterMartti Miettunen
Preceded byKalevi Sorsa
Succeeded byJohannes Virolainen
In office
4 September 1972 13 June 1975
Prime MinisterKalevi Sorsa
Preceded byMauno Koivisto
Succeeded byOlavi J. Mattila
In office
12 September 1964 26 May 1966
Prime MinisterJohannes Virolainen
Preceded by Reino Oittinen
Succeeded byReino Oittinen
Member of the Finnish Parliament
In office
5 April 1966 23 March 1979
Constituency Mikkeli
Personal details
Ahti Kalle Samuli Karjalainen

(1923-02-10)10 February 1923
Hirvensalmi, Finland
Died7 September 1990(1990-09-07) (aged 67)
Helsinki, Finland
Political party Centre
(resigned in 1983)
Spouse(s)Päivi Koskinen

Ahti Kalle Samuli Karjalainen (10 February 1923 – 7 September 1990) was a Finnish politician. He was a member of the Agrarian League (later known as Keskusta, Centre Party) and served two terms as Prime Minister of Finland. [2] He is, however, better known for his period as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Finland. Karjalainen is considered one of the most influential figures in post-war Finnish politics. Like President Urho Kekkonen, Karjalainen attached great importance to Finland's relationship with the Soviet Union.


Karjalainen served as the Minister of the Treasury, Minister of Foreign Affairs [3] and Minister of Trade and Industry for half a decade from 1957, forming his first government on 13 April 1962. It remained in office until December the following year; ultimately disbanding due to the resignations of ministers sympathetic to the SAK over economic and political issues. Karjalainen served a second term as prime minister from 15 July 1970 to 29 October 1971.

Karjalainen's ministerial career continued with only short interruptions until May 1977. By this time he had spent 5,772 days as a political minister - a period of service only surpassed by Johannes Virolainen. Karjalainen first entered the Parliament of Finland in 1966, serving as a member for 13 years.

In 1950, Urho Kekkonen made Karjalainen a key secretary in his first government. This was the start of a long-standing cooperative relationship between Kekkonen and Karjalainen, which endured for more than twenty years. So close was their partnership that throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, Karjalainen was seen by many as Kekkonen's crown prince. Their partnership ended when Kekkonen dismissed Karjalainen's second government in 1971.

In 1981 Karjalainen put his name forward to be presidential candidate of the Centre Party, but lost to Johannes Virolainen. The election was ultimately won by Mauno Koivisto who became President of Finland in January 1982, succeeding Kekkonen.

Outside politics Karjalainen had a successful career with the Bank of Finland. He served as director of its research facility from 1953 to 1957, and was elected to its Board of Management in 1958. Karjalainen served as Deputy Governor of the Bank of Finland from 1979, acting chairman of the board from 1979 to 1982 and as governor from 1982 to 1983. [4]

Karjalainen was a Doctor of Political Science; his thesis was entitled "The relationships between the monetary politics of the Bank of Finland and the state economy from 1811 to 1953 mainly regarding liquidity analysis".

The later stages of Karjalainen's political career were notably affected by his alcoholism – a national scandal ensued following his final resignation as prime minister when he was arrested for drunk-driving. His alcoholism was the cause of his dismissal as Governor of the Bank of Finland in 1983. Karjalainen's use of alcoholic beverages and the peculiar manner in which he spoke the English language led him to receive the moniker of "Tankero". "Tankero jokes" ended up becoming a widely known part of Finnish culture.

In 1989, Karjalainen publicized his memoirs where he publicly claimed that how Paavo Väyrynen had worked with KGB spy Viktor Vladimirov. [5] [6] [7]

Karjalainen died of pancreatic cancer in Helsinki on 7 September 1990.


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  1. "Governments in chronological order". Finnish government (Valtioneuvosto). Retrieved 27 March 2017.
  2. "Ministerikortisto". Valtioneuvosto.[ permanent dead link ]
  3. "Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland - Ministers of Foreign Affairs". Valtioneuvosto.fi. Archived from the original on 2012-04-03. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  4. "Board Members in the history of the Bank of Finland". Bank of Finland. Archived from the original on 2017-08-07. Retrieved 2017-04-13.
  5. Finlandization' Wins Respect of Finns
  6. HS kuukausiliite 1/2010, pages 32-36
  7. Vanhan liiton mies. Iltasanomat. 18.10.2008
Political offices
Preceded by
Martti Miettunen
Prime Ministers of Finland
Succeeded by
Reino Ragnar Lehto
Preceded by
Teuvo Aura
Prime Ministers of Finland
Succeeded by
Teuvo Aura
Government offices
Preceded by
Mauno Koivisto
Governor of the Bank of Finland
Succeeded by
Rolf Kullberg