Ahti Karjalainen

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Ahti Karjalainen
Prime Minister of Finland
In office
13 April 1962 – 18 December 1963
Deputy Johannes Virolainen
Preceded by Martti Miettunen
Succeeded by Reino Ragnar Lehto
In office
15 July 1970 – 29 October 1971
Deputy Veikko Helle
Preceded by Teuvo Aura
Succeeded by Teuvo Aura
Personal details
Born 10 February 1923
Died 7 September 1990(1990-09-07) (aged 67)
Political party Centre Party

Ahti Kalle Samuli Karjalainen (10 February 1923 in Hirvensalmi – 7 September 1990 in Helsinki) was a Finnish politician. He was a member of the Agrarian League (later known as Keskusta, Centre Party) and was Prime Minister of Finland for two terms,[1] although he is best remembered as one of the longest serving Foreign Ministers of Finland. Karjalainen is considered one of the most influential people in post-war Finnish politics and economy. Like president Urho Kekkonen, Karjalainen was considered to put much emphasis on Finland's relations with Soviet Union.

Karjalainen served as second Minister of Treasury, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Trade and Industry from 1957, until he formed his first government on 13 April 1962, which was in session for 615 days until 18 December 1963. After that, the government was disbanded because SAK-sympathetic ministers had resigned because of economy-political disagreements. Karjalainen's second government was in session 15 July 1970 – 29 October 1971. Karjalainen's ministrial career continued with only minor breaks to May, 1977, when he had spent 5772 days as a political minister. In the history of Finnish politics, this is second only to Johannes Virolainen. Karjalainen was nominated as a candidate for the Parliament of Finland in 1966 and served as Member of the Parliament for 13 years.

Urho Kekkonen took Karjalainen as his secretary in his first government in 1950. This was the start of co-operation between Kekkonen and Karjalainen, which continued as good and tight for over 20 years. In the 1960s and early 1970s Karjalainen was generally seen as Kekkonen's future successor. The co-operation was broken up when Kekkonen disbanded Karjalainen's second government in 1971. Karjalainen sought to be the presidential candidate for the Centre Party in 1981, but lost to Johannes Virolainen. In January 1982, Mauno Koivisto was elected as President of Finland after Kekkonen resigned.

Karjalainen had a great career in the Bank of Finland. He served as director of its research facility from 1953 to 1957 and was elected to the Board of Management in 1958. Karjalainen served as deputy Managing Director of the Bank of Finland from 1979, acting Chairman of the Board from 1979 to 1982 and as Managing Director from 1982 to 1983.

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".

Especially the latter part of Karjalainen's political career was influenced by alcoholism (at one stage after he had left the Prime and Foreign Ministership, there was a national scandal when he was arrested for drunk driving). He was finally sacked from his last office in the Bank of Finland by president Koivisto in 1983 because of his alcoholism. Karjalainen's use of alcoholic beverages and his rather personal pronunciation of the English language gave him a popular nickname "Tankero". In Finland, "Tankero jokes" have almost become national heritage.

In 1989 Karjalainen published letters which showed how Paavo Väyrynen had worked with KGB spy Viktor Vladimirov.[2][3][4]

Karjalainen died of pancreatic cancer in September 1990.


  1. ^ "Ministerikortisto". Valtioneuvosto. 
  2. ^ Finlandization' Wins Respect of Finns
  3. ^ HS kuukausiliite 1/2010, pages 32-36
  4. ^ Vanhan liiton mies. Iltasanomat. 18.10.2008

External links[edit]

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