National Coalition Party (Finland)

National Coalition Party (Finland)

party_name = National Coalition Party
party_wikicolourid = Blue
name in Finnish = Kansallinen Kokoomus
name in Swedish = Samlingspartiet
leader = Jyrki Katainen
foundation = 1918
ideology = Liberal conservatism
position = Center-right
international = International Democrat Union
european = European People's Party
colours = Blue
headquarters = Pohjoinen Rautatiekatu 21 B
president = Sauli Niinistö
website = []
The National Coalition Party (in Finnish "Kansallinen Kokoomus", "Kok."; in Swedish "Samlingspartiet", "Saml.") is a centre-right political party in Finland. The party was founded on December 9, 1918 by conservative fennomans. Today the party professes to base its politics on "individual freedom and responsibility, equality, Western democracy and economic system, humane principles and Christian ethics." [Official website (2007): [ "Tätä on Kokoomus"] .] The party is strongly pro-European and is a member of the European People's Party (EPP).

The National Coalition Party is one of the three largest parties in Finland, along with the Social Democratic Party and the Centre Party. Its vote share has been around 20% in parliamentary elections in the 1990s and 2000s. It won 50 out of 200 seats in the Parliamentary elections in 2007 and gained an additional seat when Merikukka Forsius defected from the Green League in February 2008.


Although the party is rightist, it harbours several different political currents, including social reformism, conservatism (mainly in northern Finland and Lapland), and classical liberalism. It believes in entrepreneurship with limited government intervention, work as a safeguard of the welfare society, responsible individuality, equality of chances in society, limited privatization of health care services, and strong education and technology development. The party also supports active membership in the European Union and is supportive of membership in NATO, although it says that joining would require a political consensus that doesn't currently exist. With regard to traditional morality and established family institutions, it has had trouble reconciling support for traditional family values and the liberal views of some of its members.


The party was founded by conservative monarchists from the Finnish Party and the Young Finnish Party after the Finnish Civil War. The founding meeting declared, "A national coalition is needed over old party lines that have lost meaning and have too long separated similarly thinking citizens. This coalition's grand task must be to work to strengthen in our nation the forces that maintain society. Lawful societal order must be strictly upheld and there must be no compromise with revolutionary aspirations." [Kansallisen Kokoomuspuolueen perustava kokous (1918): ["Kansalaisille"] .] The party sought to accomplish this by advocating constitutional monarchy and, failing that, strong governmental powers within a republican framework; and by implementing a number of social and economic reforms, such as compulsory education, universal health care, and progressive income and property taxation. ["Kansallisen Kokoomuspuolueen ohjelma". February 2, 1919.]

In the late 1920s and early 1930s the rise of fascist movements, with which the party shared nationalism and staunch anti-communism, caused division within the party. Although Pehr Evind Svinhufvud, the party's first President, played a key role in putting down the Lapua Movement, in the 1933 parliamentary election the party formed an electoral coalition with the fascist Patriotic People's Movement, founded by former Lapua Movement supporters. The result was a major defeat. The party lost 24 of its previous 42 seats in the parliament. It made a break with the Patriotic People's Movement in 1934 under the newly elected chairman J.K. Paasikivi and noted its opposition to fascism in the 1935 party program. Nevertheless it was shut out of government until the outbreak of the Winter War and only slowly gained back support. [Ilkka Ahtokivi (1996): [ "Kokoomus itsenäisessä Suomessa 1918-44".] ]

During both the Winter War and the Continuation War, the party took part in unity governments and generally strongly supported government policies. At a party meeting on April 23, 1941, party vice chair Edwin Linkomies (and Prime Minister in 1943-1944) assessed the foreign policy situation thusly: "We must in any case lean on Germany during this war, because it is the only one who can protect us from Russia. What comes to Russia, it's our enemy. There is no doubt that Russia's intention is to conquer Finland..." [Mauno Jokipii (1987): "Jatkosodan synty". Pages 245-246. Otava. ISBN 951-1-08799-1.]

After the war the National Coalition Party sought to portray itself as defender of democracy against the resurgent Finnish communists. Paasikivi, who had advocated making more concessions to Soviet Union before the Winter War and taken a cautious line with regard to cooperation with Germany before the Continuation War, acted first as Prime Minister (1944-1946) and then as President (1946-1956). The conflict between the party and the communist Finnish People's Democratic League culminated when President Paasikivi fired the Communist Minister of the Interior Yrjö Leino, who had used the security police to spy on the party's youth organization among other abuses. [Ilkka Ahtokivi (1996): [ "Kokoomus Valpon silmätikkuna".] Nykypäivä. May 17, 1996.]

In 1951 the party changed its name from the original "Kansallinen Kokoomuspuolue" to the current "Kansallinen Kokoomus". The 1950s were also a time of ideological reform, as emphasis on individual liberty and free market reforms increased at the expense of social conservatism and maintaining a strong government. A minor division in 1958 led to the formation of the Christian Democrats.

From 1966 to 1987 the party was shut out of government. By criticizing President Urho Kekkonen and Finnish communists, the party had lost the President's trust and governments based on the Centre Party and left-wing parties followed one another. A new guard emerged within the party in the 1970s that sought to improve relations with President Kekkonen. Their work was partially successful in the late 1970s. [Tomi Tuomisalo (2006): [ "Kokoomus, Kekkonen ja NKP:n luottamus. Kansallisen Kokoomuksen toiminta hallitusaseman saavuttamiseksi 1969-1981".] Helsingin Yliopisto.] However, even though the party supported Kekkonen for president in 1978 and became the second biggest party in the country in the 1979 parliamentary election, a place in the government continued to elude it until the end of Kekkonen's time in office.

During the long years in opposition the party's support had grown steadily and in 1987 it attained the best parliamentary election result in its history. Harri Holkeri became the party's first Prime Minister since Paasikivi. During Holkeri's time in office, the Finnish economy suffered a downturn and the 1991 parliamentary election resulted in a loss. The party continued in the government as a junior partner until the 2003 parliamentary election, after which it spent four years in the opposition.

The current party chairman is Jyrki Katainen, who was elected in 2004. In March 2006, Katainen was elected Vice-President of the European People's Party (EPP). He is seen as a dynamic and reforming person by many party members although there have been some doubts in the Finnish media about his lack of experience and relatively young age (born in 1971). The previous party chairman is Ville Itälä, who was elected as a Member of the European Parliament after his term in office in 2003.

The National Coalition Party's candidate in the 2006 Finnish presidential election was former Minister of Finance and ex-party chairman Sauli Niinistö. He qualified for the second round runoff as one of the top two candidates in the first round, but was defeated by the sitting President Tarja Halonen with 51.8% of the vote against his 48.2%. He is currently the Speaker of the Parliament.

Parliamentary election 2007

The National Coalition Party had been in the opposition since the 2003 parliamentary election, in which it suffered a defeat, getting only 18.6% of the votes and losing six seats to bring its total down to 40. (It later gained two seats through defections.) In the 2007 parliamentary election the party increased its share to 50 seats in what was the biggest gain of the elections. The party held a close second place in the Parliament after the Centre Party, which had 51 seats. The Social Democratic Party were third with 45 seats.

After the election the party entered into a coalition government together with the Centre Party, the Green League, and the Swedish People's Party. It currently holds eight of the 20 portfolios in the Cabinet, including the finance portfolio held by Katainen and the foreign affairs portfolio held by Alexander Stubb.

List of party Chairmen

* Hugo Suolahti (1918–1919)
* Eemil Nestor Setälä (1920)
* Antti Tulenheimo (1921–1924)
* Hugo Suolahti (1925)
* Kyösti Haataja (1926–1932)
* Paavo Virkkunen (1932–1933)
* Juho Kusti Paasikivi (1934–1936)
* Pekka Pennanen (1936–1942)
* Edwin Linkomies (1943–1944)
* K. F. Lehtonen (1945)
* Arvo Salminen (1946–1954)
* Jussi Saukkonen (1955–1965)
* Juha Rihtniemi (1965–1971)
* Harri Holkeri (1971–1979)
* Ilkka Suominen (1979–1991)
* Pertti Salolainen (1991–1994)
* Sauli Niinistö (1994–2001)
* Ville Itälä (2001–2004)
* Jyrki Katainen (2004–)

Prominent party leaders

* Lauri Ingman - Prime Minister of Finland 1918-1919 and 1924-1925, Archbishop of Turku 1930-1934
* Antti Tulenheimo - Prime Minister of Finland 1925
* Pehr Evind Svinhufvud - President of Finland 1931-1937
* Edwin Linkomies - Prime Minister of Finland 1943-1944
* Juho Kusti Paasikivi - President of Finland 1946-1956, Prime Minister of Finland 1944-1946
* Harri Holkeri - Prime Minister of Finland 1987-1991
* Sauli Niinistö - Finance Minister of Finland 1995-2003

External links

* [ National Coalition Party] - Official site fi
* [ Youth Union of National Coalition] fi
* [ Student Union of National Coalition] fi
* [ Party's news and announcement paper] fi
* [ European People's Party] official site


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