1937 Finnish presidential election

Two-stage presidential elections were held in Finland in 1937. On 15 and 16 January the public elected presidential electors to an electoral college.[1] They in turn elected the President. Whilst Kaarlo Juho Ståhlberg was one vote short of winning on the first ballot, the result was a victory for Kyösti Kallio, who won on the second ballot.[2] The turnout for the popular vote was 57.8%.[3]

1937 Finnish presidential election

← 1931 15–16 January 1937 1940 →
  Kyösti Kallio Pehr Evind Svinhufvud Kaarlo Juho Ståhlberg
Candidate Kyösti Kallio Pehr Evind Svinhufvud Kaarlo Juho Ståhlberg
Party Agrarian National Coalition National Progressive
Electoral vote 177 104 19
Popular vote 184,668 240,602 141,897

President before election

Pehr Evind Svinhufvud
National Coalition

Elected President

Kyösti Kallio


The issues the election campaign was fought on included President Pehr Evind Svinhufvud's refusal in September and October 1936 to allow the Social Democrats - then clearly the largest political party in Finland - to enter the government, Prime Minister Kallio's moderate and conciliatory attitude towards the Social Democrats, former President Ståhlberg's second attempt to regain power, and the distribution of the new Finnish economic prosperity among the various social classes, especially labourers and peasants.

Almost one-third of the electors originally supported the Social Democratic candidate, Väinö Tanner, whose supporters conceded that he had no chance of being elected in the bourgeois Finland, but emphasized that his electors could probably decide who would win the presidency. President Svinhufvud also had almost one-third of the electors behind him (including the right-wing electors of the Swedish People's Party), while both Kallio and Ståhlberg each had just under one-fifth of the electors supporting them. However, Kallio had the fewest uncompromising opponents in the Electoral College. This made him easily the second-best choice (after Ståhlberg) for the Social Democrats and the moderate supporters of Ståhlberg. Thus Kallio won the presidency clearly on the second ballot. Kallio's victory was helped also by the fact that the ideological quarrels in Finland had calmed down considerably since the early and mid-1930s, given Finland's rising prosperity, the gradually increasing Agrarian-Social Democratic co-operation, and the far right's decreasing support.[4][5][6][7][8]


Popular voteEdit

Social Democratic Party341,40830.6895
General electoral alliance for Svinhufvud240,60221.6263
Supporters of Kallio184,66816.6056
General electoral alliance for Ståhlberg141,89712.7536
Swedish People's Party102,2509.1925
Patriotic People's Movement90,3788.1223
Swedish Left10,7430.972
Valid votes1,112,64699.73
Invalid/blank votes3,0580.27
Total votes1,115,704100.00
Registered voters/turnout1,929,86857.81
Source: Nohln & Stöver

Electoral collegeEdit

CandidatePartyFirst roundSecond round
Kaarlo Juho StåhlbergNational Progressive Party15050.00196.33
Pehr Evind SvinhufvudNational Coalition Party9431.3310434.67
Kyösti KallioAgrarian League5618.6717759.00
Source: Nohlen & Stöver


  1. ^ Dieter Nohlen & Philip Stöver (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p606 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  2. ^ Nohlen & Stöver, p628
  3. ^ Nohlen & Stöver, p623
  4. ^ Seppo Zetterberg et al (2003) A Small Giant of Finnish History, WSOY, pp653–654
  5. ^ Pentti Virrankoski (2009) A History of Finland, Finnish Literature Society, pp823–824
  6. ^ Sakari Virkkunen (1994) Finland's Presidents I, Otava, pp201, 211–212
  7. ^ Kari Hokkanen (1986) Kyösti Kallio II, WSOY
  8. ^ Sakari Virkkunen (1994) Finland's Presidents II