1982 Finnish presidential election

Two-stage presidential elections were held in Finland in January 1982. The public elected presidential electors to an electoral college on 17 and 18 January.[1] They in turn elected the President. The result was a victory for Mauno Koivisto, the first member of the Social Democratic Party to be elevated to the country's highest post, and his election meant the full integration of Social Democrats into Finnish public life and an end to the postwar dominance of the Centre Party.

1982 Finnish presidential election

← 1978 17–18 January 1982 1988 →
  Mauno Koivisto Harri Holkeri Johannes Virolainen
Candidate Mauno Koivisto Harri Holkeri Johannes Virolainen
Party Social Democratic National Coalition Centre
Electoral vote 167 58 53
Popular vote 1,370,314 593,271 534,515

  Kalevi Kivistö Jan-Magnus Jansson Helvi Sipila
Candidate Kalevi Kivistö Jan-Magnus Jansson Helvi Sipilä
Party Left Alliance Swedish People's Liberals
Electoral vote 11 11 1
Popular vote 348,359 121,519 56,070

President before election

Urho Kekkonen

Elected President

Mauno Koivisto
Social Democratic

President Koivisto was first elected in 1982.


Koivisto had been a leading public figure since the late 1960s, when he had served as Prime Minister for two years. During the 1970s, as governor of the Bank of Finland and, for a short time, as Minister of Finance, he had won the public's respect for the accuracy of his economic forecasts. His personality and considerable media astuteness also won him a very considerable personal popularity across party lines. Born in 1923 in Turku, the son of a carpenter, he fought bravely during World War II. After the war he returned to his native city, and through years of part-time study, earned a doctorate in sociology in 1956. He was active within the moderate wing of the SDP, yet did not seek an elective office. He began his banking career by directing a large employees' savings bank in Helsinki.

Summoned again in 1979 to serve as Prime Minister, Koivisto retained the public's esteem and became a strong potential candidate for the presidential election scheduled for 1984. Seen by Centre Party politicians as a threat to their party's hold on the presidency after Urho Kekkonen's inevitable retirement, Koivisto was pressured to resign in the spring of 1981. He refused, telling Kekkonen that he would continue as Prime Minister until a lack of parliamentary support for his government was shown. Koivisto's survival despite Kekkonen's challenge was seen by some observers as the end of an era in which the president had dominated Finnish public life.

In autumn 1981 failing health forced Kekkonen to resign the presidency, and Koivisto assumed the duties of the office until the presidential election set for January 1982, two years ahead of schedule. He won handily, with the Social Democratic Party receiving 43% of the votes with a turnout of 81.3% --and 145 of the electors. With the support of some electors pledged to the Finnish People's Democratic League candidate, he won, with 167 votes, on the first ballot of the electoral college. His popularity remained high during his first term, and he easily won re-election in 1988.[2]


Popular voteEdit

Social Democratic Party1,370,31443.13144
National Coalition Party593,27118.6758
Centre Party534,51516.8253
Finnish People's Democratic League348,35910.9632
Swedish People's Party121,5193.8211
Finnish Rural Party71,9472.261
Finnish Christian League59,8851.880
Åland Coalition11,1190.351
Constitutional Right Party9,5320.300
Finnish People's Unity Party9940.030
Valid votes3,177,52599.67
Invalid/blank votes10,5310.33
Total votes3,188,056100.00
Registered voters/turnout3,921,00581.31
Source: Nohlen & Stöver

Electoral collegeEdit

CandidatePartyFirst roundSecond round
Mauno KoivistoSocial Democratic Party14548.1716755.48
Harri HolkeriNational Coalition Party5819.275819.27
Johannes VirolainenCentre Party5317.615317.61
Kalevi KivistöFinnish People's Democratic League3210.63113.65
Jan-Magnus JanssonSwedish People's Party113.65113.65
Helvi SipiläLiberals10.3310.33
Veikko VennamoFinnish Rural Party10.33
Raino WesterholmFinnish Christian League00.00
Source: Nohlen & Stöver


  1. ^ Dieter Nohlen & Philip Stöver (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p630 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  2. ^ Text from PD source: US Library of Congress: A Country Study: Finland, Library of Congress Call Number DL1012 .A74 1990.