1940 Finnish presidential election

Early and indirect presidential elections were held in Finland in 1940 after President Kyösti Kallio resigned on 27 November following a stroke on 27 August. The 1937 electoral college was recalled and elected Prime Minister Risto Ryti, who received 288 of the 300 votes.[1] Most other Finnish politicians considered Ryti a principled, unselfish, intelligent and patriotic man, who could lead Finland effectively enough during World War II. His leadership qualities had been tested already during the Winter War (November 1939–March 1940). Also the outgoing President Kallio considered him the best available presidential candidate. In early December 1940, the Soviet Foreign Minister, Vyacheslav Molotov, interfered with the Finnish presidential elections by claiming to the Finnish Ambassador to the Soviet Union, Juho Kusti Paasikivi, that if potential presidential candidates such as Marshal Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim, former President Pehr Evind Svinhufvud, or former Prime Minister Toivo Mikael Kivimäki were elected President, the Soviet government would consider Finland unwilling to fulfill its peace treaty with the Soviet Union. Due to the lingering threat of another war and the Karelian refugees' dispersal throughout Finland, regular presidential elections were cancelled, and instead the 1937 presidential electors were summoned to elect the President. Under these tense political circumstances, Ryti had no problem winning these exceptional presidential elections by a landslide.[2][3] The same day, former president Kallio died.

1940 Finnish presidential election

← 1937 19 December 1940 1943 →
  Risto Ryti Johan Helo
Candidate Risto Ryti Johan Helo
Party National Progressive Social Democratic
Electoral vote 288 4

President before election

Kyösti Kallio

Elected President

Risto Ryti
National Progressive

The presidential elections taking place


Risto RytiNational Progressive Party28897.96
Johan HeloSocial Democratic Party41.36
Pehr Evind SvinhufvudNational Coalition Party10.34
Toivo Mikael KivimäkiNational Progressive Party10.34
Valid votes29498.00
Invalid/blank votes62.00
Total votes300100.00
Source: Nohlen & Stöver


  1. ^ Dieter Nohlen & Philip Stöver (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p628 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  2. ^ Antti Laine, "Finland At War" (Suomi sodassa), pgs. 705-707 in Seppo Zetterberg et al., eds., A Small Giant of the Finnish History / Suomen historian pikkujättiläinen. Helsinki: WSOY, 2003
  3. ^ Pentti Virrankoski, A History of Finland / Suomen historia, volumes 1&2. Helsinki: Finnish Literature Society (Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura), 2009, pg. 898