Ahti Karjalainen

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Ahti Karjalainen
28th Prime Minister of Finland[1]
In office
13 April 1962 – 18 December 1963
PresidentUrho Kekkonen
DeputyJohannes Virolainen
Preceded byMartti Miettunen
Succeeded byReino Ragnar Lehto
In office
15 July 1970 – 29 October 1971
PresidentUrho Kekkonen
DeputyVeikko Helle
Preceded byTeuvo Aura
Succeeded byTeuvo Aura
Personal details
Born10 February 1923
Died7 September 1990(1990-09-07) (aged 67)
Political partyCentre Party
(resigned in 1983)

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.



  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.
  5. ^ Finlandization' Wins Respect of Finns
  6. ^ HS kuukausiliite 1/2010, pages 32-36
  7. ^ 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
Government offices
Preceded by
Mauno Koivisto
Governor of the Bank of Finland
Succeeded by
Rolf Kullberg