- Centre Party (Finland)
party_name = Centre Party
party_wikicolourid = Centre
name in Finnish = Suomen Keskusta
name in Swedish = Centern i Finland
foundation = 1906
position = Centre
European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party
headquarters = Apollonkatu, 11a
website = [http://www.keskusta.fi/In_English/Main.iw3 http://www.keskusta.fi ]
The Centre Party (in Finnish: "Suomen Keskusta", "Kesk.", in Swedish: "Centern i Finland", "C") is a centrist
political partyin Finland. It is one of the three largest political parties in the country, along with the Social Democrats (SDP) and the National Coalition Party. Currently the Centre Party has the most seats, 51 out of 200, in the Finnish Parliament(2007). Its political influence is greatest in small and rural municipalities, where it often holds a majority of the seats in the municipal councils. Decentralization is the policy that is most characteristic of the Centre Party.
The party is a member of the
Liberal Internationaland the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Partyand subscribes to the liberal manifestos of these organisations. Its members in the European Parliamentare members of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.
Despite belonging to the Liberal International, the Centre Party does not play quite the same role in Finnish politics as do Liberal parties in other countries because it evolved from an Agrarian Party. In Finland, there is no large party that supports liberalism "per se". Instead, liberalism is found in all parties as well as in the Centre Party, which supports decentralization, free will, free and fair trade, and small enterprise.
One of the major differences between the Finnish Centre and other parties has been its large number of members; hundreds of thousands of Finnish people are members of the party. In recent years, the party has gained many immigrant members as well.Fact|date=March 2007
Throughout the period of Finland's independence the Centre Party has been the party most often represented in the government. The country's longest-serving president,
Urho Kekkonen, was from the party.
Today, only a small portion (about 5%) of the votes given to the party come from farmers and the Centre Party draws support from a wide range of professions. However, even today rural Finland and small towns form the strongest base of support for the party, although it has worked toward making a breakthrough in the major southern cities as well. The current
Prime Minister of Finlandis Matti Vanhanen, who succeeded Anneli Jäätteenmäki.
The party was founded in 1906 as a movement of citizens in the Finnish countryside. Before Finnish independence, political power in Finland was centralized in the capital and to the
estates of the realm. The centralization gave space for a new political movement. In 1906 were founded two agrarianmovements which in 1908 merged into one political party: the Agrarian League or Maalaisliitto.
From the very beginning of its presence the party has supported the idea of
decentralization. At the dawn of Finnish independence the party supported republicanismas opposed to a monarchybacked by conservative social forces.
Soon the ideas of humanity, education, the spirit of the land, peasant-like freedom,
decentralization, "the issue of poor people", progressivism, and later the "green wave" became the main political phrases describing the ideology of the party. Santeri Alkiowas the most important ideological father of the party. In the 1930s centre forces led the fight against the threatening right-wing movement.
In 1965 the party changed its name to "Centre Party" or "Keskustapuolue" and in 1988 it took its current name "Suomen Keskusta". Today the importance of humanity and tolerance, social safety and freedom of choice, regional equality, entrepreneurship, ecologically sustainable initiatives, and a decentralised, democratic decision-making process are important values for the Centre Party.
Prominent party leaders
Lauri Kristian Relander, President 1925-1931
Kyösti Kallio, Prime Minister four times 1922-1937, President 1937-1940
Urho Kekkonen, Prime Minister twice 1950-1956, President 1956-1981
Martti Miettunen, Prime Minister twice 1961-1977
Ahti Karjalainen, Prime Minister
List of party Chairmen
Petter Vilhelm Heikkinen1919-1940
Vieno Johannes Sukselainen1946-1964
Johannes Virolainen1965-1980 - Prime Minister, Speaker of Parliament
Paavo Väyrynen1980-1990 - Foreign Minister, Member of the European parliament
Esko Aho1990-2000, 2001-2002 - Prime Minister 1991-1995
Anneli Jäätteenmäki2000-2001, 2002-2003 - Speaker of Parliament, Prime Minister 2003
Matti Vanhanen2003 - Prime Minister
Liberalism and centrism in Finland
*fi [http://www.keskusta.fi Official website]
*en [http://www.keskusta.fi/keskusta/english/ Official website in English]
*fi [http://www.keskustanuoret.fi Youth organizations official website]
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