Finnish People's Democratic League

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Finnish People's Democratic League
Finnish nameSuomen Kansan Demokraattinen Liitto
Swedish nameDemokratiska Förbundet för Finlands Folk
FoundedOctober 29, 1944 (1944-10-29)
Dissolved1990
Merged into Left Alliance
Newspaper Vapaa Sana  [ fi ] 1944–1956
Kansan Uutiset 1957–1990
Student wing Socialist Student League  [ fi ]
Youth wing Democratic Youth League of Finland
Women's wing Democratic Women's League of Finland  [ fi ]
Children's wing Democratic Union of Finnish Pioneers  [ fi ]
Ideology Socialism
Communism
Marxism
Anti-capitalism
Political position Left-wing to far-left

Finnish People's Democratic League (Finnish : Suomen Kansan Demokraattinen Liitto, SKDL; Swedish : Demokratiska Förbundet för Finlands Folk, DFFF) was a Finnish political organisation with the aim of uniting those left of the Finnish Social Democratic Party. It was founded in 1944 as the anti-communist laws in Finland were repealed due to the demands of the Soviet Union, and lasted until 1990, when it merged into the newly formed Left Alliance. At its time, SKDL was one of the largest leftist parties in capitalist Europe, with its main member party, the Communist Party of Finland, being one of the largest communist parties west of the Iron Curtain. The SKDL enjoyed its greatest electoral success in the 1958 parliamentary election, when it gained a support of approximately 23 per cent and a representation of 50 MPs of 200 total, making it the largest party in the Eduskunta.

Contents

SKDL joined several Finnish governments. The first SKDL minister was Yrjö Leino who took office in November 1944. After the 1945 parliamentary election SKDL was a major player in the Paasikivi III coalition with social democrats and parties of the centre, and in 1946 SKDL's Mauno Pekkala became the prime minister. The Pekkala government led the state until summer 1948, after which the SKDL didn't participate in any coalitions until 1966. The late 1960s governments, led by social democrats and including centre, were called popular front by the SKDL. The party left the government in spring 1971 but returned in 1975. Kalevi Sorsa's third coalition was the last one SKDL was in, until December 1982.

Organisation

A person could be aligned to the SKDL through its basic organisations or as member of the "community members" which were the Communist Party of Finland (SKP), the Democratic League of Finnish Women  [ fi ] (1944–1990), Academic Socialist Society  [ fi ] (1944–1965), Suomen Toverikuntien Liitto  [ fi ] (1946–1952), the Socialist Unity Party (SYP) (1946–1955), the Socialist Student League  [ fi ] (1965–) and the Democratic Youth League of Finland (1967–1990). During most of its existence the SKDL had over 50 000 "own" members. In addition to the community members, tens of different nationwide organizations were controlled by the SKDL members, see for example the People's Temperance League.

The supporters of the SKP constantly had a majority in the SKDL, thus it was regarded by many as a communist front. The SKP members often attended two consecutive meetings to decide on the same issues. However, not even socialism was mentioned in the party programme until the late 1960s. The number of communist party members amongst the SKDL MPs constantly increased from 1945 on, even though many prominent left-wing socialists and former social democrats had joined the alliance in the 1940s.

One of the few organized non-SKP forces in SKDL was the Socialist Unity Party (SYP) which was founded mainly by former social democrats in 1946. The small and marginalized SYP left the SKDL in 1955 but most of the socialists inside the SKDL chose not to follow the decision made by the party chair Atos Wirtanen and they remained members of the SKDL through its basic organisations. In the early 1970s a Joint Committee of the SKDL Socialists was formed but it never developed an organisation and remained a loose coalition.

Publications

Vapaa Sana  [ fi ] was SKDL's party organ from 1944 until 1956. SKDL also published many regional daily newspapers. In 1957 Vapaa Sana was merged with the SKP organ Työkansan Sanomat  [ fi ] to launch Kansan Uutiset , which was the organ of both parties until 1990. Kansan Uutiset still appears and since 2000 it has been the organ of Left Alliance.

Leaders

Chairmen
K. H. Wiik 1944
Cay Sundström 19441946
J. W. Keto 19461948
Kusti Kulo 19481967
Ele Alenius 19671979
Kalevi Kivistö 19791985
Esko Helle 19851988
Reijo Käkelä 19881990
  General secretaries
Tyyne Tuominen 1944–1949
Yrjö Enne 1949–1952
Hertta Kuusinen 1952–1958
Yrjö Enne 1959–1961
Mauno Tamminen 1962–1965
Ele Alenius 1965–1967
Aimo Haapanen 1967–1977
Jorma Hentilä 1977–1984
Reijo Käkelä 1984–1988
Salme Kandolin 1988–1990

Electoral results

Parliamentary elections

Finnish People's Democratic League
ElectionVotes %Seats+/-Status
1945 398,61823.47%
49 / 200
NewCoalition government (1945–1946)
Leading government (1946–1948)
1948 375,53819.98%
38 / 200
Decrease2.svg11Opposition
1951 391,13421.58%
43 / 200
Increase2.svg5Opposition
1954 433,25121.57%
43 / 200
Steady2.svgOpposition
1958 450,22023.16%
50 / 200
Increase2.svg7Opposition
1962 506,82922.02%
47 / 200
Decrease2.svg3Opposition
1966 502,37421.20%
41 / 200
Decrease2.svg6Coalition government
1970 420,55616.58%
36 / 200
Decrease2.svg5Coalition government (1970–1971)
Opposition (1971)
1972 438,75717.02%
37 / 200
Increase2.svg1Opposition
1975 519,48318.89%
40 / 200
Increase2.svg3Coalition government (1975–1976)
Opposition (1976–1977)
Coalition government (1977–1979)
1979 518,04517.90%
35 / 200
Decrease2.svg5Coalition government (1979–1982)
Opposition (1982–1983)
1983 400,93013.46%
26 / 200
Decrease2.svg9Opposition
1987 270,4339.39%
16 / 200
Decrease2.svg10Opposition

Local elections

YearCouncillorsVotesShare of
votes
1945 2 496275 324
1947 2 005314 15620,4%
1950 2 517347 10223,04%
1953 2 546406 32423,10%
1956 2 272353 96721,2%
1960 2 409432 14622,0%
1964 2 417470 55021,9%
1968 1 770382 88216,91%
1972 1 731437 13017,48%
1976 2 050494 92018,45%
1980 1 835456 17716,64%
1984 1 482354 58213,15%
1988 1 209270 53210,29%

Presidential elections

YearElectorsVotesShare of
votes
Candidate
1950 67338 03521,4% Mauno Pekkala
1956 56354 57518,7% Eino Kilpi
1962 63451 75020,5% Paavo Aitio
1968 56345 60917,0%supported Urho Kekkonen of Centre
1978 56445 09818,2%supported Urho Kekkonen of Centre
1982 32348 35911,0% Kalevi Kivistö
1988  
26
330 072
286 833
10,7%
9,6%
Kalevi Kivistö
Liike 88

None of the party's own candidates were elected President, although Urho Kekkonen was elected both times when SKDL seconded him.

See also

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