Finnish Rural Party

The Finnish Rural Party (Finnish: Suomen maaseudun puolue, SMP; Swedish: Finlands landsbygdsparti, FLP) was an agrarian[1] and populist[2] political party in Finland. Starting as a breakaway faction of the Agrarian League in 1959 as the Small Peasants' Party of Finland (Suomen Pientalonpoikien Puolue), the party was identified with the person of Veikko Vennamo, a former Agrarian League Member of Parliament known for his opposition to the politics of President Urho Kekkonen. Vennamo was chairman of the Finnish Rural Party between 1959 and 1979.

Finnish Rural Party
Suomen Maaseudun Puolue
Dissolved1995 (de facto)
2003 (de jure)
Split fromAgrarian League
Succeeded byFinns Party (de facto)
Political positionSyncretic

Support for the party was at its highest in the 1970s and 1980s, with its share of the votes reaching around 10 percent in some parliamentary elections.[3] In the 1990s, the party fell into financial trouble and was disbanded in 1995 (formally dissolved in 2003). The True Finns party is the successor of the Finnish Rural Party.


The founder of the Finnish Rural Party was Veikko Vennamo, leader of a faction in the Agrarian League (which was renamed Centre Party in 1965). The relations of Veikko Vennamo and the Agrarian League's strong man Urho Kekkonen were icy at best, and after Kekkonen was elected president in 1956 Vennamo ran into serious disagreement with the party secretary, Arvo Korsimo, and was excluded from the parliamentary group. As a result, he immediately founded his own party in 1959.

Small Peasants' Party of FinlandEdit

Small Peasants' Party of Finland (Suomen Pientalonpoikien Puolue) was established in 1959. The founders of the party were members of the Agrarian League. The leader of the party, Veikko Vennamo, resided as the head of The Department of Housing and Land Reform with relations to the Carelian refugees after the Continuation war. Vennamos skisma with his own party started when V. J. Sukselainen was elected the chairman of the Agrarian League.

Ideologically the split began in December, 1957, when Mr. Paavo Ojalehto from Northern Finland wrote a letter to the board of the members of the Agrarian League claiming, that the party secretary of the Agrarian League, Mr. Arvo Korsimo did not meet the traditional moral values and did not appreciate chastity. The only member supporting Ojalehto's claim was Veikko Vennamo. Vennamo was not allowed to take part in party the parliamentary group of the Agragian League in the parliament of Finland for a set period of time in 1958. Suomen Pientalonpoikien puolue was registered in the end of 1958. The only MP of the party was Veikko Vennamo.[4]

As Johannes Virolainen succeeded Vieno Johannes Sukselainen as the chairman of the Agrarian League and had the name of the Agrarian League changed to Center Party (Keskustapuolue) in 1965 to meet better the needs of the sons and daughters of the farmers, who sought work in the cities, towns and boroughs as an alternative to the emigration to Sweden. The Small Peasants Party of Finland emphasized its position of defending the small peasants agriculture on its behalf.

In 1966 the party was renamed The Rural Party of Finland.

Finnish Rural PartyEdit

The Finnish Rural Party started as a protest movement, with support from the unemployed and small farmers.[3] The state-sponsored resettlement of veterans of World War II and evacuees from ceded Karelia into independent small farms provided an independent power base to Vennamo, who was nationally well known, having served as director of the government resettlement agency since the end of the war. Vennamo was the honorary chairman of Asutusliitto, the resettler society, and the society was involved in early campaigning. For the newly founded party, the main carrying force was Vennamo, who was charismatic, a good orator and a skilled negotiator.

The Rural Party won in its best showing with 18 seats in the Finnish parliament (which has 200 seats) in the 1970 election. The party got exactly the same amount of MPs in the next election in 1972, but was soon afterwards split in two as a majority of the parliamentary group, 12 members, resigned to establish a new party called the Finnish People's Unity Party (Suomen Kansan Yhtenäisyyden Puolue, SKYP). The party defectors accused Vennamo of autocratic leadership, while Vennamo accused the defectors of having been bought off with parliamentary party subsidies.

Veikko Vennamo's son, Pekka Vennamo, became the party leader when his father retired in the 1980s. Vennamo Junior had neither the charisma nor the oratorical skills of his father. Other parties noticed this, and the Rural Party was taken into the cabinet in 1983. As a protest movement without a charismatic leader, burdened with ministers participating in unpopular coalitions, the party gradually lost political support.

Agricultural changes proved hard for small farmers, who sold their farms and moved to the cities. The Social Democratic Party was seen as a more credible alternative for the unemployed. Finally, the declining support of the Rural Party forced Vennamo Junior to resign. Some of the party's former MPs joined the Centre Party or retired with Vennamo. The party's last chairman and MP Raimo Vistbacka (the only one elected in 1995) was among the founders of the Finns Party and became that party's first MP and chairman. The Rural Party's last party secretary Timo Soini likewise became the Finns Party's first party secretary. With the Finns Party's electoral success in the 2011 election three former Rural Party MPs returned to the parliament as the Finns Party MPs (Anssi Joutsenlahti, Lea Mäkipää, Pentti Kettunen).

It declared bankruptcy in 2003. Four supporters of the Rural Party of Finland, including Timo Soini and Raimo Vistbacka, established the True Finns. The decision to establish this new party was made in a sauna in the village of Kalmari in the town of Saarijärvi.[5]


The party held anti-establishment or anti-elite views, and criticized other politicians and parties, the government, "bureaucrats", international corporations, academics, cultural elites and corruption, while idealizing the ordinary people and small-time entrepreneurs of the countryside. Vennamo attacked, for example, other members of the parliament for over-claiming daily allowances. The party was also anti-communist, and claimed established parties and the political leadership were too subservient to the Soviet Union.[6][7]

Vennamo was known for inventing and using pejorative terms, such as rötösherrat ("rotten gentlemen"), referring to allegedly corrupt politicians, and teoriaherrat ("theoretical gentlemen"), referring to academics allegedly lacking common sense. A slogan used by the party was Kyllä kansa tietää! ("Yes, the people know!").[8]

The party professed to hold traditional Christian values, and, for example, opposed the decriminalization of homosexuality in 1971. Racism and xenophobia were not visibly part of the party's ideology.[9][10]

Prominent RuralistsEdit

Party CongressesEdit

Election resultsEdit

Parliamentary electionsEdit

Year MPs Votes Share of votes
1962 0 49,773 2.2%
1966 1 24,351 1.0%
1970 18 265,939 10.5%
1972 18 236,206 9.2%
1975 2 98,815 3.6%
1979 7 132,457 4.6%
1983 17 288,711 9.7%
1987 9 181,938 6.3%
1991 7 132,133 4.9%
1995 1 36,185 1.3%

Local council (municipal) electionsEdit

Year Councillors Votes Share of votes
1960 359 52,524 2.7%
1964 30,683 1.4%
1968 910 165,139 7.3%
1972 646 125,061 5.0%
1976 245 56,091 2.1%
1980 348 83,265 3.0%
1984 639 142,474 5.3%
1988 453 95,258 3.6%
1992 354 64,880 2.4%

Presidential electionsEdit

Electoral college elections
Year Candidate Votes for SMP electors Share of votes
1968 Veikko Vennamo 231,282 11.4%
1978 Veikko Vennamo 114,488 4.7%
1982 Veikko Vennamo 71,947 2.3%
1988 Mauno Koivisto (SDP candidate, also supported by SMP) 120,043 4.0%
Direct elections
Year Candidate Votes Share of votes
1994 Sulo Aittoniemi 30 622 (first round) 1.0% (first round)


  1. ^ Christina Bergqvist (1 January 1999). Equal Democracies?: Gender and Politics in the Nordic Countries. Nordic Council of Ministers. pp. 319–. ISBN 978-82-00-12799-4.
  2. ^ Zulianello, Mattia (2019). Anti-System Parties: From Parliamentary Breakthrough to Government. Abingdon: Routledge. p. 200. ISBN 978-1-138-34679-6.
  3. ^ a b Anders Widfeldt: “A fourth phase of the extreme right? Nordic immigration-critical parties in a comparative context”. In: NORDEUROPAforum (2010:1/2), 7-31,
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Arter, David (18 January 2013). Scandinavian politics today: Second edition. Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-1-84779-493-2. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  7. ^ Strijker, Dirk; Voerman, Gerrit; Terluin, Ida (20 November 2015). Rural protest groups and populist political parties. Wageningen Academic Publishers. p. 220. ISBN 978-90-8686-807-0. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  8. ^ Akkerman, Tjitske; Lange, Sarah L. de; Rooduijn, Matthijs (2016). Radical Right-Wing Populist Parties in Western Europe: Into the Mainstream?. Routledge. p. 125. ISBN 978-1-317-41978-5. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  9. ^ Akkerman, Tjitske; Lange, Sarah L. de; Rooduijn, Matthijs (2016). Radical Right-Wing Populist Parties in Western Europe: Into the Mainstream?. Routledge. p. 115. ISBN 978-1-317-41978-5. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  10. ^ Lazaridis, Gabriella; Campani, Giovanna (10 November 2016). Understanding the Populist Shift: Othering in a Europe in Crisis. Taylor & Francis. p. 23. ISBN 978-1-317-32606-9. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  11. ^ a b c Raija Kaikkonen: Tina Mäkelä Smp:n johtoon Helsingin Sanomat 5.8.1991
  12. ^ a b c Pekka Väisänen: Urpo Leppäsen paluuyritys sähköisti Smp:n puoluekokouksen Helsingin Sanomat 4.7.1993
  13. ^ Raija Kaikkonen: Smp:lle uusi johtaja täpärässä äänestyksessä Helsingin Sanomat 2.8.1992
  14. ^ Enävaara 1979
  15. ^ Räisänen 1989

External linksEdit