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Kyösti Kallio

Kyösti Kallio (1873 – December, 1940) Fourth president of Finland 1937-1940

Kyösti (originally Gustaf) Kallio was born 1873 in Ylivieska[?], Finland. His father was a farmer and a prominent local politician. He joined newly founded Agrarian Party 1906 and he became one of its prominent leaders. He became a agrarian minister in the senates of Oskari Tokoi, Pehr Evind Svinhufvud and Juho Kusti Paasikivi. During the Finnish Civil War, he hid in Red-dominated Helsinki because he was at least nominal White and therefore “class enemy“ and formed a new senate in Helsinki after German troops defeated the Reds in the city. Afterwards he became a moderate peacemaker and disapproved of retaliation against the Reds.

During the debates about the form of the new state, Kallio resigned from the senate in 1918 because he supported a republic instead of constitutional monarchy. Eventually, monarchist stand lost and he became a prime minister. He was a reformist who emphasized education, settlement and land reform. His greatest achievement in 1922 was Lex Kallio, legislation that allowed state to buy land to encourage new settlements. On the other hand, he did support Finnish Prohibition laws and was dismayed when they were repealed 1932.

Kallio was an anti-communist and suppressed the Finnish Communist Party SKP 1923 but he resorted to legislative methods. When violent right-wing Lapua Movement asked him to become their leader, he refused and became a subject of their death threats.

Kallio was elected a president with the votes of conservative and social democratic coalition that wanted to ensure that Svinhufvud would not be re-elected. Kallio took a role of a parliamentarian president and avoided use of his personal power.

In the eve of Winter War, when Carl Gustaf Mannerheim threatened to resign due to schism with government ministers, Kallio convinced him to stay. During the war he resisted the idea to give any territory to Soviet Union but was forced to agree to sign the peace treaty. His health begun to fail – his right arm was paralyzed – and he was not active in dealings with Germany. August 28 he suffered a serious stroke.

Kallio resigned November 27, prior to the Continuation War. He was going to Nivala[?] to his farm after the farewell ceremonies when he collapsed and died in the Helsinki railway station, before the guard of honor and Mannerheim.

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