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The Most Famous

POLITICIANS from Finland

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This page contains a list of the greatest Finnish Politicians. The pantheon dataset contains 15,577 Politicians, 99 of which were born in Finland. This makes Finland the birth place of the 33rd most number of Politicians behind South Korea and Switzerland.

Top 10

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.

Photo of Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim

1. Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim (1867 - 1951)

With an HPI of 74.19, Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim is the most famous Finnish Politician.  His biography has been translated into 69 different languages on wikipedia.

Baron Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim (Swedish pronunciation: [kɑːɭ ˈɡɵ̂sːtav ˈěːmɪl ˈmânːɛrˌhɛjm], Finland Swedish: [kɑːrl ˈɡʉstɑv ˈeːmil ˈmɑnːærˌhejm] ; 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 (1918), as Regent of Finland (1918–1919), as commander-in-chief of the Finnish Defence Forces during the period of World War II (1939–1945), and as the sixth president of Finland (1944–1946). He became Finland's only field marshal in 1933 and was appointed honorary Marshal of Finland in 1942. The Russian Empire dominated the Grand Duchy of Finland before 1917, and Mannerheim made a career in the Imperial Russian Army, serving in the Russo-Japanese War and the Eastern Front of World War I and rising by 1917 to the rank of lieutenant general. He had a prominent place in the ceremonies for Emperor Nicholas II's coronation in 1896 and later had several private meetings with the Tsar. After the Bolshevik coup of October 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, and he led them to victory, holding a triumphal victory parade in Helsinki in May. After spending some time abroad, he was invited back to Finland to serve as the country's second regent, or head of state, from December 1918 to July 1919. Despite being a monarchist, he formally ratified the republican Constitution of Finland. He then ran against K. J. Ståhlberg in the first Finnish presidential elections in 1919 but lost and quit politics. Mannerheim helped found the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare in 1920 and headed the Finnish Red Cross from 1922 to his death. He was restored to a central role in national defence policy when President Svinhufvud appointed him as the Chairman of the Finnish Defence Council in 1931, tasked with making preparations for a potential war with the Soviet Union. It was also agreed that he would temporarily take over as commander-in-chief of the country's armed forces should there be a war.Accordingly, after the Soviets invaded Finland in November 1939 in what became the Winter War, Mannerheim replaced President Kallio as commander-in-chief, and occupied the post for the next five years. He became a unifying symbol of the war effort and part of the core leadership of the country. He personally participated in the planning of Operation Barbarossa and led the Finnish Defence Forces in an invasion of the Soviet Union alongside Nazi Germany known as the Continuation War (1941–1944). In 1944, when the prospect of Nazi 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 United Kingdom. Already in declining health, he resigned the presidency in 1946 and spent much of his remaining life in a sanatorium in Switzerland, where he wrote his memoirs, and where he 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. According to Finnish historian Tuomas Tepora, a cult of personality began to be built around Mannerheim right after the civil war.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 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". Baron Mannerheim is the only person to have held the ranks of Marshal of Finland and Finnish field marshal.On the other hand, Mannerheim's personal reputation still strongly divides opinions among people even to this day, with some critics highlighting his role as the senior commander of the White Guard in the massacres of the Red prisoners during and after the Finnish Civil War and the establishment of the concentration camps in East Karelia, in which poor conditions led to a high mortality rate.

Photo of Sauli Niinistö

2. Sauli Niinistö (1948 - )

With an HPI of 69.68, Sauli Niinistö is the 2nd most famous Finnish Politician.  His biography has been translated into 81 different languages.

Sauli Väinämö Niinistö (Finnish pronunciation: [ˈsɑu̯li ˈʋæi̯næmø ˈniːnistø]; born 24 August 1948) is a Finnish politician who has been the 12th president of Finland since 1 March 2012. A lawyer by education, Niinistö was Chairman of the National Coalition Party (NCP) 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 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 (EPP) since 2002. Niinistö was the NCP candidate in the 2012 presidential election, defeating Pekka Haavisto of the Green League (VIHR) with 62.6% of the vote in the decisive second round. Niinistö assumed office on 1 March 2012; he is the first NCP president since Juho Kusti Paasikivi, who left office in 1956. In May 2017, Niinistö announced that he would seek reelection in the 2018 presidential election, running as an Independent candidate. The NCP and Christian Democrats (KD) supported his candidacy. He won reelection in the first round on 28 January 2018 with 62.7% of the vote and his second term began on 1 February 2018.

Photo of Tarja Halonen

3. Tarja Halonen (1943 - )

With an HPI of 68.22, Tarja Halonen is the 3rd most famous Finnish Politician.  Her biography has been translated into 79 different languages.

Tarja Kaarina Halonen (pronounced [ˈtɑrjɑ ˈkɑːrinɑ ˈhɑlonen] ; born 24 December 1943) is a Finnish politician who served as the 11th president of Finland, and the first and to date only 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. Since the death of Martti Ahtisaari in 2023, Halonen is currently the oldest living former president of Finland.

Photo of Urho Kekkonen

4. Urho Kekkonen (1900 - 1986)

With an HPI of 67.61, Urho Kekkonen is the 4th most famous Finnish Politician.  His biography has been translated into 65 different languages.

Urho Kaleva Kekkonen (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 to 1982. He also served as prime minister (1950–1953, 1954–1956), and held various other cabinet positions. He was the third and most recent president from the Agrarian League/Centre Party. Head of state for nearly 26 years, he dominated Finnish politics for 31 years overall. Holding a large amount of power, he won his later elections with little opposition and has often been classified as an autocrat.As president, Kekkonen continued the "active neutrality" policy of his predecessor President Juho Kusti Paasikivi that came to be known as the Paasikivi–Kekkonen doctrine, under which ostensibly Finland was to retain 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 Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe 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. Kekkonen was a member of the Parliament of Finland from 1936 until his rise to the presidency. Either prior, during or between his premierships, he served as minister of justice (1936–37, 1944–46, 1951), minister of the interior (1937–39, 1950–51), speaker of the Finnish Parliament (1948–50) and minister of foreign affairs (1952–53, 1954). In addition to his extensive political career, he was a lawyer by education, a policeman and athlete in his youth, a veteran of the Finnish Civil War, and an enthusiastic writer. During World War II, his anonymous reports on the war and foreign politics received a large audience in the Suomen Kuvalehti magazine. Even during his presidency, he wrote humorous, informal columns (causerie) for the same magazine, edited by his long-time friend Ilmari Turja, under several pseudonyms.

Photo of Juho Kusti Paasikivi

5. Juho Kusti Paasikivi (1870 - 1956)

With an HPI of 66.19, Juho Kusti Paasikivi is the 5th most famous Finnish Politician.  His biography has been translated into 55 different languages.

Juho Kusti Paasikivi (27 November 1870 – 14 December 1956) was a Finnish politician who served as the seventh president of Finland from 1946 to 1956. Representing the Finnish Party until its dissolution in 1918 and then the National Coalition Party, he previously served as senator, member of parliament (1907–1909, 1910–1914), envoy to Stockholm (1936–1939) and Moscow (1940–1941), and Prime Minister of Finland (1918 and 1944–1946). He also 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.

Photo of Risto Ryti

6. Risto Ryti (1889 - 1956)

With an HPI of 64.50, Risto Ryti is the 6th most famous Finnish Politician.  His biography has been translated into 48 different languages.

Risto Heikki Ryti (Finnish pronunciation: [ˈristo ˈhei̯kːi ˈryti]; 3 February 1889 – 25 October 1956) was a Finnish politician who 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 as prime minister during the Winter War and the Interim Peace, and as president during the Continuation War. 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. His resignation soon afterwards allowed his successor Mannerheim to bypass the agreement and make peace with the Soviet Union once the offensive had been stopped. After the war, Ryti was the main defendant in the Finnish war-responsibility trials (1945–1946), which resulted in his conviction for crimes against peace. He was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment but was pardoned by decision of President Juho Kusti Paasikivi in 1949. His reputation was largely unscathed, but his health had suffered and he never returned to public life.

Photo of Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich of Russia

7. Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich of Russia (1917 - 1992)

With an HPI of 64.37, 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.

Photo of Pehr Evind Svinhufvud

8. Pehr Evind Svinhufvud (1861 - 1944)

With an HPI of 63.38, Pehr Evind Svinhufvud is the 8th most famous Finnish Politician.  His biography has been translated into 49 different languages.

Pehr Evind Svinhufvud af Qvalstad (Finland Swedish: [ˈpæːr ˈeːvind ˈsviːnhʉːvʉd]; Finnish: [ˈpeːr ˈeʋind ˈsʋinhu̥fvud]; 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 Grand Duchy of Finland, which was at that time an autonomous state under Russian Empire rule, Svinhufvud played a major role in the movement for Finnish independence. He was the one who presented the Declaration of Independence to the Parliament.From December 1917, Svinhufvud was the first head of government of independent Finland as Chairman of the Senate. He led the White government during the Finnish Civil War while Mannerheim led their armies. After the war, he served as Finland's first temporary head of state with the title of Regent during the project to establish a German-aligned monarchy in the country, until late 1918 when he stepped down in favour of Mannerheim. He later served as Prime Minister from 1930 to 1931, before being elected to the presidency. As president, he was notable for putting an end to the Mäntsälä rebellion. As a conservative and nationalist 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 under Russian rule was especially valued in the early years of independence until the end of the World War II, unlike in later decades. Ever since communism and the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s, appreciation of Svinhufvud has begun to increase.

Photo of Otto Wille Kuusinen

9. Otto Wille Kuusinen (1881 - 1964)

With an HPI of 63.11, Otto Wille Kuusinen is the 9th most famous Finnish Politician.  His biography has been translated into 37 different languages.

Otto Wilhelm "Wille" Kuusinen (Finnish: [ˈotːo ˈʋilːe ˈkuːsinen] ; Russian: О́тто Вильге́льмович Ку́усинен, romanized: Otto Vilgelmovich Kuusinen; 4 October 1881 – 17 May 1964) was a Finnish-born Soviet 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. He briefly led the so-called Finnish Democratic Republic before serving as Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Karelo-Finnish SSR.

Photo of Mauno Koivisto

10. Mauno Koivisto (1923 - 2017)

With an HPI of 62.00, Mauno Koivisto is the 10th most famous Finnish Politician.  His biography has been translated into 57 different languages.

Mauno Henrik Koivisto (Finnish pronunciation: [ˈmɑu̯no ˈkoi̯ʋisto]; 25 November 1923 – 12 May 2017) was a Finnish politician who served as the ninth president of Finland from 1982 to 1994. He also served as the country's prime minister twice, from 1968 to 1970 and again from 1979 to 1982. He was also the first member of the Social Democratic Party to be elected as President of Finland.

Pantheon has 99 people classified as politicians born between 1664 and 1987. Of these 99, 40 (40.40%) 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 April 2022, 15 new politicians have been added to Pantheon including Aksel Airo, Rudolf Walden, and Carl Gustaf Mannerheim.

Living Politicians

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Deceased Politicians

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Newly Added Politicians (2022)

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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.