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Väinö Tanner (12 March 1881 – 19 April 1966; surname until 1895 Thomasson) was a leading figure in the Social Democratic Party of Finland, and a pioneer and leader in the cooperative movement in Finland. He was Prime Minister of Finland in 1926–1927.[1]

Väinö Tanner
10th Prime Minister of Finland
In office
13 December 1926 – 17 December 1927
PresidentLauri Kristian Relander
Preceded byKyösti Kallio
Succeeded byJuho Sunila
Personal details
Born12 March 1881
Died19 April 1966(1966-04-19) (aged 85)
Political partySocial Democratic Party

Tanner was born in Helsinki. He did not participate in the Finnish Civil War, maintaining a neutral attitude. When the war ended he became Finland's leading Social Democratic Party (SDP) politician, and a strong proponent of the parliamentary system. His main achievement was the rehabilitation of the SDP after the Civil War. Väinö Tanner served as Prime Minister (1926–1927), Minister of Finance (1937–1939), Minister of Foreign Affairs (1939–1940),[2] and after the Winter War Minister of Trade and Industry (1941–1942)[3] and Minister of Finance (1942-1944).[4]

Väinö Tanner's legacy is in his directing the Finnish working class from their extremist ideology towards pragmatic progress through the democratic process. Under his leadership the Social Democrats were trusted to form a minority government already less than 10 years after the bloody civil war. Tanner's minority socialist government passed a series of important social reforms during its time in office, which included a liberal amnesty law, reduced duties on imported foods, and pension and health insurance laws.[5]

During President Relander's brief illness Tanner, who held the post of prime minister, was even the acting President and Commander-In-Chief. In this role he even received the parade of the White guards on the 10th anniversary of the White victory. This was perceived as a remarkable development at the time. During the 1930s and 1940s, the Social Democrats formed several coalition governments with the Agrarian party.[6] In the Winter War Väinö Tanner was the foreign minister. Väinö Tanner's leadership was very important in forming the grounds and creating the Spirit of the Winter War which united the nation.

After the end of the Continuation War, Tanner was tried for responsibility for the war in February 1946, and sentenced to five years and six months in prison.[7]

After the Continuation War, and while still in prison, Tanner became the virtual leader of a faction of the SDP which had strong support from the USA. This faction eventually came out on top after a great deal of internal party strife lasting for much of the 1940s.



  • The Winter War: Finland against Russia 1939–1940 by Väinö Tanner (1957, Stanford University Press, California; also London)
  1. ^ "Ministerikortisto". Valtioneuvosto.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ "Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland - Ministers of Foreign Affairs". Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  3. ^ "Finnish Government - Ministers of Trade and Industry". Archived from the original on 2018-06-12. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  4. ^ "Council of State - Ministers of Finance". Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  5. ^ Democratic socialism: a global survey by Donald F. Busky
  6. ^ Seppo Zetterberg et al., eds., Suomen historian pikkujättiläinen, Helsinki: WSOY, 2003
  7. ^ Political Paavo, Time, December 6, 1948

External linksEdit

  Media related to Väinö Tanner at Wikimedia Commons

Political offices
Preceded by
Kyösti Kallio
Prime Minister of Finland
Succeeded by
Juho Sunila
Preceded by
Juho Niukkanen
Minister of Finance (Finland)
Succeeded by
Mauno Pekkala
Preceded by
Eljas Erkko
Minister of Foreign Affairs (Finland)
Succeeded by
Rolf Witting
Preceded by
Rainer von Fieandt
Minister of Supply (Finland)
Succeeded by
Väinö Kotilainen
Preceded by
Toivo Salmio
Minister of Trade and Industry (Finland)
Succeeded by
Uuno Takki
Preceded by
Mauno Pekkala
Minister of Finance (Finland)
Succeeded by
Onni Hiltunen
Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
G. J. D. C. Goedhart
President of the International Co-operative Alliance
1927 – 1945
Succeeded by
Robert Palmer