Finnish People's Democratic League

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Finnish People's Democratic League
Finnish name Suomen Kansan Demokraattinen Liitto
Swedish name Demokratiska Förbundet för Finlands Folk
Founded October 29, 1944 (1944-10-29)
Dissolved 1990
Merged into Left Alliance
Newspaper Vapaa Sana 1944–1956
Kansan Uutiset 1957–1990
Student wing Socialist Student League
Youth wing Finnish Democratic Youth League
Women's wing Democratic Women's League of Finland
Children's wing Democratic Union of Finnish Pioneers
Ideology Socialism, Communism, Marxism, Taistoism
Politics of Finland
Political parties
Elections

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 It was founded in 1944 as the anti-communist laws in Finland were repealed, and lasted until 1990, when it merged into the newly formed Left Alliance.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 Western 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.

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[edit]

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 (1944–1990), Academic Socialist Society (1944–1965), Suomen Toverikuntien Liitto (1946–1952), the Socialist Unity Party (SYP) (1946–1955), the Socialist Student League (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[edit]

Vapaa Sana 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 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[edit]

Chairmen
K. H. Wiik 1944
Cay Sundström 1944–1946
J. W. Keto 1946–1948
Kusti Kulo 1948–1967
Ele Alenius 1967–1979
Kalevi Kivistö 1979–1985
Esko Helle 1985–1988
Reijo Käkelä 1988–1990
    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

Elections[edit]

Parliamentary elections
Year MPs Votes Share of
votes
1945 49 398 618 23,47%
1948 38 375 538 19,98%
1951 43 391 134 21,58%
1954 43 433 251 21,57%
1958 50 450 220 23,16%
1962 47 506 829 22,02%
1966 41 502 374 21,20%
1970 36 420 556 16,58%
1972 37 438 757 17,02%
1975 40 519 483 18,89%
1979 35 518 045 17,90%
1983 27 400 930 13,46%
1987 16 270 433 9,39%
  Local elections
Year Councillors Votes Share of
votes
1945 2 496 275 324
1947 2 005 314 156 20,4%
1950 2 517 347 102 23,04%
1953 2 546 406 324 23,10%
1956 2 272 353 967 21,2%
1960 2 409 432 146 22,0%
1964 2 417 470 550 21,9%
1968 1 770 382 882 16,91%
1972 1 731 437 130 17,48%
1976 2 050 494 920 18,45%
1980 1 835 456 177 16,64%
1984 1 482 354 582 13,15%
1988 1 209 270 532 10,29%

Presidential elections[edit]

Year Electors Votes Share of
votes
Candidate
1950 67 338 035 21,4% Mauno Pekkala
1956 56 354 575 18,7% Eino Kilpi
1962 63 451 750 20,5% Paavo Aitio
1968 56 345 609 17,0% seconded Urho Kekkonen of Centre
1978 56 445 098 18,2% seconded Urho Kekkonen of Centre
1982 32 348 359 11,0% 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[edit]