The History of the Finnish SDP

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The Social Democratic Party of Finland has been operating for over 110 years, having been founded in 1899 in Turku. The party took on the name of ‘Social Democrats’ at the Forssa congress in 1903, and it was here that the founding principles of the party were first written down in what is now called the Forssa program.

The history of the SDP is intertwined with the history of Finland itself. The party played a vital role in the creation of the first Finnish parliament (1907) and the struggle for independence (1917). It successfully argued in favour of extending voting rights, and was one of the first parties in the world to demand (and achieve) equal voting rights for women.

As Finland established itself politically, the SDP pushed for it to establish itself socially too, pressing for the high quality universal education and social services that Finland is still proud of today. The development of the economy saw the SDP demand for improved labour rights and working conditions, striking a balance between the state, business and trade unions – a system which laid the grounds for Finland becoming one of the great economic successes of the 20th century.

In more recent times the SDP has been supportive of efforts to internationalise Finland, particularly with its entry into the European Union in 1995, and the adoption of the Euro in 2002.

The SDP has consistently been one of the three largest parties in Finland and has been a regular partner in coalition Governments. Its most recent term ended in 2007 with the formation of the current centre-right coalition, and the SDP was active and vocal in opposition between 2007-2011. 2011-2015 SDP was in Government. Today it is in opposition.

In addition SDP candidates have also held the office of president, previously with

Mauno Koivisto (1982-1994), Martti Ahtisaari (1994-2000) and Tarja Halonen (2000-2012).