Social Democratic Party of Finland
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Social Democratic Party of Finland
Social Democratic Party of Finland

Suomen sosialidemokraattinen puolue[a]
Finlands socialdemokratiska parti
LeaderAntti Rinne
Founded1899; 121 years ago (1899)
HeadquartersSaariniemenkatu 6, Helsinki
Student wingSocial Democratic Students
Youth wingDemarinuoret
Women's wingSocial Democratic Women in Finland [fi][1]
Membership (2019)39,450[2]
IdeologySocial democracy[3]
Political positionCentre-left
European affiliationParty of European Socialists
International affiliationProgressive Alliance[5]
Socialist International[6]
European Parliament groupProgressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats[4]
Nordic affiliationSAMAK
The Social Democratic Group
Colors     Red
European Parliament
Municipality councils

  1. ^ For historical reasons, the party's name is spelled in the old-fashioned way, with a short "a".

The Social Democratic Party of Finland (SDP, Finnish: Suomen sosialidemokraattinen puolue, Swedish: Finlands socialdemokratiska parti), shortened to the Social Democrats and commonly known in Finnish as Demarit,[7] is a social-democratic political party in Finland.[3] The party is the largest party in Finland's parliament with 40 seats. The party has set many fundamental policies of Finnish society during its representation in the Finnish Government. Founded in 1899, the SDP is Finland's oldest active political party. The SDP has a close relationship with Finland's largest trade union confederation, SAK, and is a member of the Socialist International, the Party of European Socialists, and SAMAK.

Following the resignation of Antti Rinne in December 2019, Sanna Marin became the country's 67th Prime Minister. SDP formed a new coalition government on the basis of its predecessor, in effect continuing cooperation with the Centre Party, the Green League, the Left Alliance, and the Swedish People's Party. Seven of the government's nineteen ministers are Social Democrats.[8]


The traditional emblem of the party

The SDP was founded as the Finnish Labour Party (Finnish: Suomen Työväenpuolue) in 1899. The name was changed to the present form in 1903. SDP was closely associated with the Finnish Trade Union Federation (SAJ), established in 1907, as all of its members were also members of the party.[9] The party remained a chiefly extra-parliamentary movement until universal suffrage was introduced in 1906 (before Finland's independence from Russia in 1917), after which the SDP's share of the votes reached 47% in 1916, when the party secured a majority in the parliament — the only time in the history of Finland when one party has had such a majority. The party lost its majority in the 1917 election, and in 1918 it started a rebellion that escalated into the Finnish Civil War.

SDP members declared Finland a Socialist Republic, but were defeated by the forces of the Finnish Senate. The war resulted in most of the party leaders being killed, imprisoned or left to seek refuge in Soviet Russia.[] In addition, the process leading to the Civil War and the war itself had stripped the party of its political legitimacy and respectability in the eyes of the right-wing majority. However, the political support for the party remained strong, and in the election of 1919, the party, reorganised by Väinö Tanner, received 80 of the 200 seats of the parliament. Former exiled SDP members founded the Communist Party of Finland in Moscow in 1918. Although the Communist Party was banned in Finland until 1944, it was represented by front organizations, leading to the support of the Finnish working class being divided between the communist party and the SDP.

It became the life's work of Väinö Tanner to re-establish the SDP as a serious, governing party. The result was a much more patriotic SDP, which leaned less to the left and was relatively isolated from its Nordic sister parties the Swedish Social Democratic Party, the SD in Denmark, and the Norwegian Labour Party. President Pehr Evind Svinhufvud's animosity kept the SDP out of government during his presidency from 1931 to 1937. With the exception of a brief period in 1926, when Tanner formed a minority government, SDP was excluded from cabinet participation until Kyösti Kallio was elected president in 1937. During World War II the party played a central role in a series of broad coalition cabinets, symbolising national unity forged in response to the threat of the USSR in the Winter War in 1939-1940.

The SDP was a member of the Labour and Socialist International from 1923 to 1940.[10]

During the first few months of the Continuation War (1941-1944), the country, the parliament, and the cabinet were divided on the question of whether Finland's army should stop at the old border and thereby demonstratively refrain from any attempt of conquests. However, the country's dangerous position called for national unity, and the SDP's leadership chose to refrain from any visible protests. This decision is sometimes indicated as one of the main reasons behind the post-war division between the main left-wing parties — the SDP and the Communists — and the high percentage of Communist voters in the first elections after the Continuation War.

After the Continuation War, the Communist Party was allowed to continue working, and the main feature of Finnish political life during the 1944-1949 period was the competition between the Social Democrats and the Communists, both for voters and for the control of the labor unions. During this time, the political field was divided roughly equally between the Social Democrats, Communists and the Agrarian League, each party commanding some 25% of the vote. In the post-war era, the Social Democratic Party adopted a line defending Finnish sovereignty and democracy in line with the Agrarian League and other bourgeois political parties, finally leading to the expulsion of the Communists from the cabinet in 1948. However, the Soviet Union remained more openly critical towards the SDP than the centre-right parties.

SDP municipal election poster from 1933. "Municipal power to those who work"

Because of the SDP's anti-communist activities, the United States Central Intelligence Agency supported the party by means of funds laundered through Nordic sister parties, or through organizations that bought "luxury goods" such as coffee abroad, then imported and sold them for a high profit, as post-war rationing served to inflate prices.

In the presidential election of 1956, the SDP candidate Karl-August Fagerholm lost by only one electoral vote to Urho Kekkonen. Fagerholm would act as Prime Minister in the Fagerholm I Cabinet, which ran from 1956 to 1957, and the Fagerholm II Cabinet, which ran from 1958 to 1959. The latter cabinet was forced to resign due to Soviet pressure, leading to a series of cabinets led by the Agrarian League. In 1958, due to the election of Väinö Tanner as party chairman, a faction of the SDP resigned and formed the Alliance of Finnish Workers and Small Farmers (TPSL) around the former SDP chairman Emil Skog. The dispute was over several issues, namely: whether the party should function as an interest group, and whether it should co-operate with the anti-communists and right-wingers, or with president Kekkonen, the Agrarians and the Communists. During the 1960s, the TPSL dwindled, its members returning one by one to the SDP or joining the Communists. The founder himself, Emil Skog, returned to the SDP in 1965. In the parliamentary election of 1970, the TPSL failed to gain any seats in parliament.

Only in 1966 was the SDP able to satisfy the Soviet Union about its friendly attitude towards it, and could thus return to the cabinet. Since then, the SDP has been represented in most Finnish cabinets, often cooperating with the centrist-agrarian Centre Party (formerly the Agrarian League), but sometimes with the liberal-conservative National Coalition Party. The SDP was in opposition from 1991 to 1995, when the main parties in the cabinet were the Centre Party and the National Coalition Party.

The parliamentary election of 1995 saw a landslide victory for the SDP, achieving their best results since World War II. The SDP rose to government from the opposition, and leader Paavo Lipponen headed two consecutive cabinets from 1995 to 2003. During this time, the party adopted a pro-European stance and contributed actively to the Finnish membership in the European Union in 1995 in concert with the cabinet. In the 2003 parliamentary election, the SDP won 53 of the 200 seats, ending up a close second to the Centre Party. As a result, Lipponen became the speaker of parliament, and the Centre Party leader Anneli Jäätteenmäki became the new Prime Minister, leading a coalition cabinet that included the SDP, which got eight ministerial posts. After two months in office, Jäätteenmäki resigned due to a scandal relating to the Iraq leak and was replaced by Matti Vanhanen, another Centre Party representative, who commanded the Vanhanen I Cabinet.

Recent elections

SDP's leader, Antti Rinne
Support for the Social Democrats by municipality in the 2011 parliamentary election -- the party fared strongest in southern and eastern parts of the country.

In the 2007 parliamentary election, the SDP gained the third-most votes. The chairman of the then-largest Centre Party, Matti Vanhanen, became the Prime Minister, and formed a coalition cabinet consisting of the National Coalition Party, the Green League, and the Swedish People's Party, leaving the SDP to the opposition. SDP leader Eero Heinäluoma did not immediately resign as party chairman, but he did announce his withdrawal from running for party chairman in the following party conference. He was replaced by Jutta Urpilainen. The SDP suffered further losses in the 2008 municipal election and the 2009 European Parliament election.

In the 2011 parliamentary election, the SDP lost three more seats, ending up with 19.1 percent of the vote which corresponded to 42 seats, the party's worst-ever result. However, as the Centre Party lost even more voters, the SDP became the second-largest party in the country after the National Coalition Party, receiving only some 1,500 votes more than the Finns Party, which came in third. After lengthy negotiations, a six-party coalition government, the Katainen Cabinet, was formed with the National Coalition Party and the Social Democrats as the two main parties. SDP leader Jutta Urpilainen became the cabinet's Minister of Finance, with NCP chairman Jyrki Katainen serving as Prime Minister.

In 2014 party conference, Urpilainen was narrowly defeated by her challenger, Antti Rinne, in a 257 to 243 vote.[11] Urpilainen subsequently stepped down as the Minister of Finance, passing the seat on to Rinne.[12]

In the 2015 parliamentary election, the drop of support continued for the SDP. The party lost eight more seats compared to the 2011 election, ending up with 34 seats and 16.5 percent of the vote. With the repeat of the worst-ever result, the SDP dropped to being the fourth largest political party in Finland, receiving 50,110 fewer votes than the National Coalition Party, yet 237,000 more votes than the Green League. SDP was left in the opposition, and provided extensive criticism on the actions of the Sipilä Cabinet on matters such as alcohol policy, cuts to education spending, and the so-called active model.[13] On 22 June 2016 Maria Tolppanen, a Finns Party representative, joined the SDP. This increased the SDP's parliamentary seat number to 35.[14]

In the 2019 parliamentary election, the SDP gained 6 seats in comparison to the 2015 election, and became the largest party in the Parliament.[15] Based on the answers and initial talks with all parties, Rinne announced that he would negotiate forming a government with Centre Party, Green League, Left Alliance and Swedish People's Party.[16] The negotiations were ultimately successful, and the Rinne Cabinet was formally inaugurated on 6 June 2019.[17]

On 3 December 2019, Rinne resigned as Prime Minister, after the Center Party had expressed a lack of confidence in Rinne for his handling of the events surrounding a postal strike in Finland.[18] He was followed in the position by Sanna Marin, who was appointed as Prime Minister on 10 December 2019.[19]


The SDP is a centre-left social democratic party. The SDP is opposed to Finland joining NATO; the party is for Finland remaining in the Partnership for Peace. In the 2015 parliamentary election, 91% of SDP candidates were opposed to NATO membership.[20]

The SDP is in favor of LGBT adoption rights, the construction of nuclear power plants, the conservation of Swedish as one of Finland's two official languages, and the increase of funding to public universities.[21]

The party is advocating for Finland to become oil-independent by 2030.

The SDP has advocated for policies preventing foreigners from working in Finland.[22] In the 2015 parliamentary election, only the Finns Party had a higher share of candidates opposed to the easing of work-based immigration.[23]

The party opposed economic reforms in the 2011 parliamentary election and in the subsequent government program negotiations.[24][25][26]

The party maintains a close relationship with trade unions. The party has opposed social reforms that would reduce the role of earnings-related unemployment benefits. The government pays them to recipients through financial middlemen that are almost exclusively trade unions.[27]

SDP supports the separation of the church and the state.[28]

Voter base

The average age of an SDP member is 61.5 years.[29] Over one half of all SDP voters are active members of the workforce.

Prominent Social Democrats

Oskari Tokoi chairman of the Senate in 1917
Yrjö Sirola founder of the Communist Party of Finland
Väinö Tanner prime minister 1926-1927

foreign minister 1939-1940

Karl-August Fagerholm prime minister 1948-1950, 1956-1957 and 1958-1959

speaker of parliament 1945-1948, 1950-1956, 1957-1958, 1958-1962, and 1965-1966

Rafael Paasio prime minister 1966-1968 and 1972
Kalevi Sorsa prime minister 1972-1975, 1977-1979, and 1982-1987
Mauno Koivisto prime minister 1968-1970 and 1979-1982

president 1982-1994

Pentti Väänänen secretary general of Socialist International 1983-1989
Martti Ahtisaari president 1994-2000

Nobel Peace Prize laureate 2008

Erkki Tuomioja foreign minister 2000-2007 and 2011-2015
Paavo Lipponen prime minister 1995-2003

speaker of the parliament 2003-2007

Tarja Halonen foreign minister 1995-2000

president 2000-2012

Eero Heinäluoma speaker of the parliament 2011-2015
Jutta Urpilainen finance minister and deputy prime minister 2011-2014
Antti Rinne finance minister and deputy prime minister 2014-2015

prime minister 2019

Sanna Marin prime minister 2019-present

minister of transport and communications 2019

Leaders of the Social Democrats

Time Leader
1899 - 1900 Nils Robert af Ursin
1900 - 1900 J. A. Salminen
1900 - 1903 K. F. Hellstén
1903 - 1905 Taavi Tainio
1905 - 1906 Emil Perttilä
1906 - 1909 Edvard Valpas
1909 - 1911 Matti Paasivuori
1911 - 1913 Otto Wille Kuusinen
1913 - 1917 Matti Paasivuori
1917 - 1918 Kullervo Manner
1918 - 1926 Väinö Tanner
1926 - 1930 Matti Paasivuori
1930 - 1942 Kaarlo Harvala
1942 - 1944 Väinö Salovaara
1944 - 1946 Onni Hiltunen
1946 - 1957 Emil Skog
1957 - 1963 Väinö Tanner
1963 - 1975 Rafael Paasio
1975 - 1987 Kalevi Sorsa
1987 - 1991 Pertti Paasio
1991 - 1993 Ulf Sundqvist
1993 - 2005 Paavo Lipponen
2005 - 2008 Eero Heinäluoma
2008 - 2014 Jutta Urpilainen
2014 - Antti Rinne


Election results

Parliament of Finland

Election Votes % Seats +/- Status
1907 329,946 37.03%
1908 310,826 38.40%
1909 337,685 39.89%
1910 316,951 40.04%
1911 321,201 40.03%
1913 312,214 43.11%
1916 376,030 47.29%
1917 444,670 44.79%
Decrease11 Opposition
1919 365,046 37.98%
Decrease12 Opposition
1922 216,861 25.06%
Decrease27 Opposition
1924 255,068 29.02%
Increase7 Opposition (1924-1926)
Leading government (1926-1927)
1927 257,572 28.30%
Steady Opposition
1929 260,254 27.36%
Decrease1 Opposition
1930 386,026 34.16%
Increase7 Opposition
1933 413,551 37.33%
Increase12 Opposition
1936 452,751 38.59%
Increase5 Opposition (1936-1937)
Coalition government (1937-1939)
1939 515,980 39.77%
Increase2 Coalition government
1945 425,948 25.08%
Decrease35 Coalition government
1948 494,719 26.32%
Increase4 Leading government (1948-1950)
Opposition (1950-1951)
Coalition government (1951)
1951 480,754 26.52%
Decrease1 Coalition government (1951-1953)
Opposition (1953-1954)
Coalition government (1954)
1954 527,094 26.25%
Increase1 Coalition government (1954-1956)
Leading government (1956-1957)
Opposition (1957-1958)
1958 449,536 23.12%
Decrease6 Leading government (1958-1959)
Opposition (1959-1962)
1962 448,930 19.50%
Decrease10 Opposition
1966 645,339 27.23%
Increase17 Leading government
1970 594,185 23.43%
Decrease3 Leading government
1972 664,724 25.78%
Increase3 Leading government
1975 683,590 24.86%
Decrease1 Coalition government (1975-1976)
Opposition (1976-1977)
Leading government (1977-1979)
1979 691,512 23.89%
Decrease2 Leading government
1983 795,953 26.71%
Increase5 Leading government
1987 695,331 24.14%
Decrease1 Leading government
1991 603,080 22.12%
Decrease8 Opposition
1995 785,637 28.25%
Increase15 Leading government
1999 612,963 22.86%
Decrease12 Leading government
2003 683,223 24.47%
Increase2 Coalition government
2007 594,194 21.44%
Decrease8 Opposition
2011 561,558 19.10%
Decrease3 Coalition government
2015 490,102 16.51%
Decrease8 Opposition
2019 546,471 17.73%
Increase6 Leading government


Year Councillors Votes
1945 2,100 265,689
1950 377,294 25.05%
1953 449,251 25.53%
1956 424,977 25.42%
1960 2,261 414,175 21.10%
1964 2,543 530,878 24.75%
1968 2,351 540,450 23.86%
1972 2,533 676,387 27.05%
1976 2,735 665,632 24.82%
1980 2,820 699,280 25.50%
1984 2,830 666,218 24.70%
1988 2,866 663,692 25.23%
1992 3,130 721,310 27.08%
1996 2,742 583,623 24.55%
2000 2,559 511,370 22.99%
2004 2,585 575,822 24.11%
2008 2,066 541,187 21.23%
2012 1,729 487,924 19.57%
2017 1,697 498,252 19.38%

European Parliament

Election Votes Seats
1996 482,577 21.45%
1999 221,836 17.86%
2004 350,525 21.16%
2009 292,051 17.54%
2014 212,211 12.3%
2019 267,342 14.6%

Presidential elections


Year Candidate Electors Votes
1925 Väinö Tanner 79 165,091 26.6%
1931 Väinö Tanner 90 252,550 30.2%
1937 95 341,408 30.7%
Election year Candidate Public vote Electoral college
# of overall votes % of overall vote # of overall
seats won
# of overall votes % of overall vote # of overall votes % of overall vote # of overall votes % of overall vote
1950 343,828 21.8 (#2)
1956 Karl-August Fagerholm 442,408 23.3 23.3 (#2)
24.0 (#2)
38.0 (#1)
49.7 (#2)
1962 Rafael Paasio 289,366 13.1 (#3)
12.3 (#3)
1968 Urho Kekkonen 315,068 15.5 (#4)
67.0 (#1)
1978 Urho Kekkonen 569,154 23.2 (#1)
86.3 (#1)
1982 Mauno Koivisto 1,370,314 43.1 (#1)
48.3 (#1)
55.7 (#1)

19880 Mauno Koivisto 128 1,175,209 39.36%


Election year Candidate Public vote Electoral college
# of overall votes % of overall vote # of overall votes % of overall vote # of overall votes % of overall vote
1988 Mauno Koivisto 1,513,234 48.9 (#1)
48.0 (#1)
63.0 (#1)
Election year Candidate 1st round 2nd round
# of overall votes % of overall vote # of overall votes % of overall vote
1994 Martti Ahtisaari 828,038 25.9 1,723,485 53.9 (#1)
2000 Tarja Halonen 1,224,431 40.0 (#1) 1,644,532 51.6 (#1)
2006 Tarja Halonen 1,397,030 46.3 (#1) 1,630,980 51.8 (#1)
2012 Paavo Lipponen 205,020 6.7 (#5)
2018 Tuula Haatainen 97,294 3.3 (#6)

0 The 1988 Presidential election was partially indirect: after Koivisto had failed to get a majority of the popular vote, he was elected president in the electoral college, which the voters voted for alongside the direct vote.
1 first round
2 second round

See also


  1. ^ "Member Organisations". Socialist International Women. Retrieved 2019.
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b Nordsieck, Wolfram (2019). "Finland". Parties and Elections in Europe.
  4. ^ a b Terry, Chris (3 March 2014). "Social Democratic Party of Finland (SDP)". The Democratic Society. Retrieved 2019.
  5. ^ "Parties & Organisations". Progressive Alliance. Retrieved 2019.
  6. ^ "Full list of member parties and organisations". Socialist International. Retrieved 2019.
  7. ^ Icoronato, Katja (June 25, 2019). ""Ministerivastuun alla ei voi enää puhua pötyä - Demarit selittelevät tätä fuulausta vielä pitkään"". Uusi Suomi (in Finnish). Retrieved 2018.
  8. ^ "Ministers". Valtioneuvosto. Retrieved .
  9. ^ Tepora, Tuomas & Roselius, Aapo: The Finnish Civil War 1918: History, Memory, Legacy, p. 32. Brill Academic Publishers, 2014. ISBN 978-900-42436-6-8.
  10. ^ Kowalski, Werner. Geschichte der sozialistischen arbeiter-internationale: 1923 - 19. Berlin: Dt. Verl. d. Wissenschaften, 1985.
  11. ^ "Antti Rinne on SDP:n uusi puheenjohtaja". Yle. 9 May 2014. Retrieved 2019.
  12. ^ "Antti Rinteestä uusi valtiovarainministeri". Helsingin Sanomat. 28 May 2014. Retrieved 2019.
  13. ^ "Eduskunta hyväksyi työttömyysturvalain aktiivimalleineen - Teollisuusliitto tuomitsee ja väläyttää lakkoa". Yle Uutiset (in Finnish). Retrieved .
  14. ^ "Perussuomalaisten kansanedustaja loikkaa Sdp:n riveihin". Helsingin Sanomat. 22 June 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  15. ^ "Parliamentary Elections 2019: Party Results". Ministry of Justice. 15 April 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  16. ^ "Näin syntyi hallitusohjelmasta neuvotteleva uusi punamulta". Yle. 8 May 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  17. ^ "Finland's new government: SDP, Centre dominate ministerial portfolios". yle. 3 June 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  18. ^ "Finnish PM Rinne resigns". Yle. 3 December 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  19. ^ "Finland's record-young PM appointed, faces confidence vote next week". Yle. 10 December 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  20. ^ "Enemmistö eduskuntavaaliehdokkaista vastustaa Natoa". Iltasanomat. March 14, 2015.
  21. ^ "Values A-Z | Sosialidemokraatit". Retrieved .
  22. ^ "No nordic model: Understanding differences in the labour migration policy preferences of mainstream Finnish and Swedish political parties". Comparative European Politics. November 2014.
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Puolueiden mielestä talouskasvu ratkoo ongelmat". Helsingin Sanomat. April 3, 2011. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  25. ^ "Ekonomistit teilaavat puolueiden talouspolitiikan". Helsingin Sanomat. April 3, 2011. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  26. ^ "Sdp:n eläkelinja syntyi puolivahingossa". February 2, 2013.
  27. ^ Osmo Soininvaara (2010). SATA-komitea. Miksi asioista päättäminen on niin vaikeaa.
  28. ^ "Kansalaiskanava - Aloite 149 kirkon ja valtion suhde harkintaan". SDP. 2017.
  29. ^ "Tutkimus: Tällaisia puolueiden jäsenet ovat - keskusta ja SDP eläkeikäisten puolueita ja perussuomalaiset miesten". Yle Uutiset (in Finnish). Retrieved .
  30. ^ First Chairwoman of the Social Democratic Party.
  31. ^ "Chairmen of SDP". SDP.[permanent dead link]

External links

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