The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Finnish Politicians of all time. This list of famous Finnish Politicians is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Finnish Politicians.
With an HPI of 80.18, Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim is the most famous Finnish Politician. His biography has been translated into 67 different languages on wikipedia.
Baron Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim (Swedish pronunciation: [kɑːɭ ˈɡɵ̂sːtav ˈěːmɪl ˈmânːɛrˌhɛjm], Finland Swedish: [kɑːrl ˈɡʉstɑv ˈeːmil ˈmɑnːærˌhejm] (listen); 4 June 1867 – 27 January 1951) was a Finnish military leader and statesman. He served as the military leader of the Whites in the Finnish Civil War of 1918, as Regent of Finland (1918–1919), as commander-in-chief of Finland's defence forces during the period of World War II (1939–1945), as Marshal of Finland (1942- ), and as the sixth president of Finland (1944–1946). The Russian Empire dominated the Grand Duchy of Finland before 1917, and Mannerheim made a career in the Imperial Russian Army, rising by 1917 to the rank of lieutenant general. He had a prominent place in the ceremonies for Tsar Nicholas II's coronation in 1896 and later had several private meetings with the Tsar. After the Bolshevik revolution of November 1917 in Russia, Finland declared its independence (6 December 1917) – but soon became embroiled in the 1918 Finnish Civil War between the pro-Bolshevik "Reds" and the "Whites", who were the troops of the Senate of Finland, supported by troops of the German Empire. A Finnish delegation appointed Mannerheim as the military chief of the Whites in January 1918. Mannerheim was appointed as Commander-in-Chief of the country's armed forces in November 1939 after the Soviet invasion of Finland. He personally participated in the planning of Operation Barbarossa and led the Finnish Defence Forces in an invasion of the USSR alongside Nazi Germany known as the Continuation War (1941-1944). In 1944, when the prospect of Germany's defeat in World War II became clear, the Finnish Parliament appointed Mannerheim as President of Finland, and he oversaw peace-negotiations with the Soviet Union and the UK. He resigned from the presidency in 1946 and died in 1951. Participants in a Finnish survey taken 53 years after his death voted Mannerheim the greatest Finn of all time. During his own lifetime he became, alongside Jean Sibelius, the best-known Finnish personage at home and abroad. Given the broad recognition in Finland and elsewhere of his unparalleled role in establishing and later preserving Finland's independence from the Soviet Union, Mannerheim has long been referred to as the father of modern Finland, and the New York Times has called the Finnish capital Helsinki's Mannerheim Museum memorializing the leader's life and times "the closest thing there is to a [Finnish] national shrine". On the other hand, Mannerheim's personal reputation still strongly divides opinions among people even to this day, with critics highlighting his role as General of the White Guard in the fate of the Red Prisoners during and after the Finnish Civil War. Mannerheim is the only Finn to have held the rank of field marshal, an honorary rank bestowed upon especially distinguished generals.
With an HPI of 75.32, Sauli Niinistö is the 2nd most famous Finnish Politician. His biography has been translated into 73 different languages.
Sauli Väinämö Niinistö (Finnish pronunciation: [ˈsɑu̯li ˈʋæi̯næmø ˈniːnistø]; born 24 August 1948) is a Finnish politician who has been serving as the 12th president of Finland since 1 March 2012. A lawyer by education, Niinistö was Chairman of the National Coalition Party from 1994 to 2001, Minister of Justice from 1995 to 1996, Minister of Finance from 1996 to 2003, Deputy Prime Minister from 1995 to 2001 and the National Coalition Party (NCP) candidate in the 2006 presidential election. He served as the speaker of the Parliament of Finland from 2007 to 2011 and has been the honorary president of the European People's Party since 2002. Niinistö was the NCP candidate in the 2012 presidential election, defeating Pekka Haavisto of the Green League with 62.6% of the vote in the decisive second round. Niinistö assumed office on 1 March 2012, and is the first NCP president since Juho Kusti Paasikivi, who left office in 1956. In May 2017, Niinistö announced that he would seek re-election in the 2018 presidential election, running as an independent candidate. NCP and the Christian Democrat Party supported his candidacy. He won re-election in the first round on 28 January 2018 with 62.7% of the vote and his second term began on 1 February 2018.
With an HPI of 73.90, Tarja Halonen is the 3rd most famous Finnish Politician. Her biography has been translated into 75 different languages.
Tarja Kaarina Halonen (pronounced [ˈtɑrjɑ ˈkɑːrinɑ ˈhɑlonen] (listen); born 24 December 1943) is a Finnish politician who served as the 11th President of Finland, and the first woman to hold the position, from 2000 to 2012. She first rose to prominence as a lawyer with the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK), and as the Prime Minister's parliamentary secretary (1974–1975) and a member of the City Council of Helsinki (1977–1996). Halonen was a Social Democratic Party member of parliament from 1979 until her election to the presidency in 2000. She also served as a minister at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health from 1987 to 1990, as Minister of Justice from 1990 to 1991, and as Minister for Foreign Affairs from 1995 to 2000. Halonen was an extremely popular president, with her approval ratings reaching a peak of 88 percent in December 2003. She was re-elected in 2006, defeating National Coalition Party candidate Sauli Niinistö in the second round by 51% to 48%. Ineligible to run in the 2012 presidential elections because of term limits, Halonen left office on 1 March 2012 and was succeeded by Niinistö. Widely known for her interest in human rights issues, Halonen served as the chairperson of the Finnish LGBT rights organization Seta in the 1980s, and she actively participated in the discussion of issues such as women's rights and the problems of globalization during her presidency. In 2006, she was mentioned by various commentators as a potential candidate for the United Nations Secretary-General selection, but she denied an interest at that time, stating that she wanted to finish her term as president before thinking about other career options. In 2009, Forbes named her among the 100 most powerful women in the world.Halonen is a member of the Council of Women World Leaders, an international network of current and former women presidents and prime ministers whose mission is to mobilize the highest-level women leaders globally for collective action on issues of critical importance to women and equitable development.
With an HPI of 73.72, Urho Kekkonen is the 4th most famous Finnish Politician. His biography has been translated into 64 different languages.
Urho Kaleva Kekkonen (pronounced [ˈurho ˈkekːonen] (listen); 3 September 1900 – 31 August 1986), often referred to by his initials UKK, was a Finnish politician who served as the eighth and longest-serving President of Finland from 1956 until 1982. He was the third and most recent president from the Agrarian League/Center Party. As head of state for nearly 26 years, he dominated Finnish politics, held a large amount of power, won his later elections with little opposition and has often been classified as an autocrat. Nevertheless, he remains a respected figure. As president, Kekkonen continued the "active neutrality" policy of his predecessor President Juho Kusti Paasikivi, a doctrine that came to be known as the "Paasikivi–Kekkonen line", under which Finland retained its independence while maintaining good relations and extensive trade with members of both NATO and the Warsaw Pact. Critical commentators referred to this policy of appeasement pejoratively as Finlandization. He hosted the European Conference on Security and Co-operation in Helsinki in 1975 and was considered a potential candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize that year. He is credited by Finnish historians for his foreign and trade policies, which allowed Finland's market economy to keep pace with Western Europe even with the Soviet Union as a neighbor, and for Finland to gradually take part in the European integration process. On the other hand, his perceived hunger for power, his divide-and-rule attitude in domestic politics and the lack of genuine political opposition, especially during the latter part of his presidency, significantly weakened Finnish democracy during his presidency. After Kekkonen's presidency, the reform of the Constitution of Finland was initiated by his successors to increase the power of the Parliament and the Prime Minister at the expense of the President. Before becoming president, he had served as Prime Minister of Finland (1950–53, 1954–56), Minister of Foreign Affairs (1952–53, 1954), Speaker of the Finnish Parliament (1948–50), Minister of Justice (1936–37, 1944–46, 1951) and Minister of the Interior (1937–1939, 1950–1951). In addition to his extensive political career, he was an enthusiastic writer who wrote humorous, informative columns (causerie) for the Suomen Kuvalehti magazine (edited by his long-time friend Ilmari Turja) under several pseudonyms, even during his presidency.
With an HPI of 72.78, Juho Kusti Paasikivi is the 5th most famous Finnish Politician. His biography has been translated into 53 different languages.
Juho Kusti Paasikivi (Finnish pronunciation: [ˈjuho ˈkusti ˈpɑːsiˌkiʋi]; 27 November 1870 – 14 December 1956) was the seventh President of Finland (1946–1956). Representing the Finnish Party and the National Coalition Party, he also served as Prime Minister of Finland (1918 and 1944–1946). In addition to the above, Paasikivi held several other positions of trust, and was an influential figure in Finnish economics and politics for over fifty years. Paasikivi is remembered as a main architect of Finland's foreign policy after the Second World War; for example, the Paasikivi Society (Paasikivi-seura), founded in 1958 under the leadership of Jan-Magnus Jansson, sought to nurture Paasikivi's political legacy, especially during the Cold War, by promoting fact-based foreign policy thinking in Finland and making Finland's policy of neutrality internationally known.
With an HPI of 71.93, Risto Ryti is the 6th most famous Finnish Politician. His biography has been translated into 46 different languages.
Risto Heikki Ryti (Finnish pronunciation: [ˈristo ˈhei̯kːi ˈryti]; 3 February 1889 – 25 October 1956) served as the fifth president of Finland from 1940 to 1944. Ryti started his career as a politician in the field of economics and as a political background figure during the interwar period. He made a wide range of international contacts in the world of banking and within the framework of the League of Nations. Ryti served (1939-1940) as prime minister during the Winter War of 1939-1940 and the Interim Peace of 1940-1941. Later he became president during the Continuation War of 1941-1944. After the war, Ryti was the main defendant in the Finnish war-responsibility trials (1945-1946).Ryti penned the 1944 Ryti–Ribbentrop Agreement (named after Ryti and Joachim von Ribbentrop), a personal letter from Ryti to Nazi German Führer Adolf Hitler whereby Ryti agreed not to reach a separate peace in the Continuation War against the Soviet Union without approval from Nazi Germany, in order to secure German military aid for Finland to stop the Soviet Vyborg–Petrozavodsk Offensive against Finland.
With an HPI of 71.74, Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich of Russia is the 7th most famous Finnish Politician. His biography has been translated into 26 different languages.
Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich of Russia (Russian: Владимир Кириллович Романов; 30 August [O.S. 17 August] 1917 – 21 April 1992) was the Head of the Imperial Family of Russia, a position which he claimed from 1938 to his death.
With an HPI of 71.39, Pehr Evind Svinhufvud is the 8th most famous Finnish Politician. His biography has been translated into 47 different languages.
Pehr Evind Svinhufvud af Qvalstad (Finland Swedish: [ˈpæːr ˈeːvind ˈsviːnhʉːvʉd]; 15 December 1861 – 29 February 1944) was the third President of Finland from 1931 to 1937. Serving as a lawyer, judge, and politician in the Russian Grand Duchy of Finland, he played a major role in the movement for Finnish independence. In 1917–1918, Svinhufvud was the first Head of State of independent Finland, first as Chairman of the Senate and subsequently as Protector of State or Regent. He also served as Prime Minister from 1930 to 1931.As a conservative who was strong in his opposition to communism and the Left in general, Svinhufvud did not become a President embraced by all the people, although as the amiable Ukko-Pekka ("Old Man Pekka"), he did enjoy wide popularity. Svinhufvud's sharp line as a defender of Finland's legal rights during the period of autonomy was especially valued from the 1920s until the end of the World War II, unlike in later decades. Ever since communism and the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s, Svinhufvud’s appreciation has begun to increase.
With an HPI of 71.30, Otto Wille Kuusinen is the 9th most famous Finnish Politician. His biography has been translated into 36 different languages.
Otto Wilhelm "Wille" Kuusinen (Finnish: [ˈotːo ˈʋilːe ˈkuːsinen] (listen); Russian: О́тто Вильге́льмович Ку́усинен, romanized: Otto Vilgelmovich Kuusinen; 4 October 1881 – 17 May 1964) was a Finnish communist and, later, Soviet politician, literary historian, and poet who, after the defeat of the Reds in the Finnish Civil War, fled to the Soviet Union, where he worked until his death.
With an HPI of 70.26, Mauno Koivisto is the 10th most famous Finnish Politician. His biography has been translated into 55 different languages.
Mauno Henrik Koivisto GOIH (Finnish pronunciation: [ˈmɑu̯no ˈkoi̯ʋisto]; 25 November 1923 – 12 May 2017) was a Finnish politician who served as the 9th President of Finland from 1982 to 1994. He also served twice as Prime Minister, from 1968–1970 and again from 1979–1982. He was also the first Social Democratic Party member to be elected President of Finland.
Pantheon has 85 people classified as politicians born between 1664 and 1987. Of these 85, 33 (38.82%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living politicians include Sauli Niinistö, Tarja Halonen, and Paavo Lipponen. The most famous deceased politicians include Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim, Urho Kekkonen, and Juho Kusti Paasikivi. As of October 2020, 17 new politicians have been added to Pantheon including Sanna Marin, Harald Öhquist, and Johan Ehrnrooth.
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Which Politicians were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Politicians since 1700.