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National Coalition Party
Finnish name Kansallinen Kokoomus
Swedish name Samlingspartiet
Leader Jyrki Katainen
President Sauli Niinistö
Founded 1918
Headquarters Pohjoinen Rautatiekatu 21 B
FI-00100 HELSINKI
Ideology Liberal conservatism
Political position Center-right
International affiliation International Democrat Union
European affiliation European People's Party
European Parliament Group European People's Party
Official colours Blue
Parliament:
European Parliament:
Website
http://www.kokoomus.fi/
Politics of Finland
Political parties
Elections

The National Coalition Party (in Finnish Kansallinen Kokoomus, Kok.; in Swedish Samlingspartiet, Saml.) is a liberal conservative[1] political party in Finland founded in 1918.

The National Coalition Party is one of the three largest parties in Finland, along with the Centre Party and the Social Democratic Party. The party professes to base its politics on "individual freedom and responsibility, equality, Western democracy and economic system, humane principles and caring."[2] The party is strongly pro-European and is a member of the European People's Party (EPP).

Its vote share has been around 20% in parliamentary elections in the 1990s and 2000s. It won 50 out of 200 seats in the Parliamentary elections in 2007 and gained an additional seat when Merikukka Forsius defected from the Green League in February 2008. In 2008 municipal elections, the National Coalition Party surpassed the Centre Party and became the most popular party.

Contents

Ideology and voter base

National Coalition Party wants to build a society where a person’s own choices, hopes and needs set the direction for development.[3]

The party defends "individual freedom and promote people’s opportunities to make choices, but without ignoring everyone’s responsibility for one’s own life, fellowmen and the environment. Our ideology combines freedom with responsibility, democracy and equality".[3] The party's basic values are education, tolerance, rewarding and caring.[3]

The party has several political currents. In international affairs, the party has viewed the European Union in much more positive terms than any other party. It is also supportive of seeking membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The party wants to build "economically and politically stronger European Union, we envisage an EU that is a more effective and a more prominent actor in world politics".[3]

Polls show that National Coalition Party is viewed as the most positive party in Finland.[4] More people are joining it, while the two other large parties are declining.[5] It has higher proportion of women than other major parties[6] and is the most favored party among young generations.[7]

The party has strongest support on cities in Southern Finland and is popular among entrepreneurs, although not associating in any particular social group.

Organization

People can join various member organizations in the party.

Student Union of National Coalition is the largest political student's movement in Finland.[8][9]

The party's Women's League (Kokoomuksen Naisten Liitto, or shortly Kokoomusnaiset) brings women together and focuses on improving gender equality in Finland and around the world. It believes that "women and men must have the same opportunities and rights to come to life, grow up, receive education, participate, work and care".[10]

Many immigrants have joined the National Immigrants (Finnish: Kansalliset Maahanmuuttajat, Kamut), an immigrant group led by Turkish-born Hülya Kytö from Turku.[11]

History

The party was founded by members of the Finnish Party and the Young Finnish Party after the Finnish Civil War. The founding meeting declared, "A national coalition is needed over old party lines that have lost meaning and have too long separated similarly thinking citizens. This coalition's grand task must be to work to strengthen in our nation the forces that maintain society. Lawful societal order must be strictly upheld and there must be no compromise with revolutionary aspirations. But simultaneously determined constructive reform work must be pursued." [12] The party sought to accomplish this by advocating constitutional monarchy and, failing that, strong governmental powers within a republican framework; and by implementing a number of social and economic reforms, such as compulsory education, universal health care, and progressive income and property taxation. [13]

In the late 1920s and early 1930s the threat posed by the Joseph Stalin's communist Soviet Union influenced Finnish politics. Communists, backed by Soviet leaders, accelerated their activities. Although Pehr Evind Svinhufvud, the party's first President, played a key role in halting the Lapua Movement, in the 1933 parliamentary election the party formed an electoral coalition with Patriotic People's Movement, founded by former Lapua Movement supporters. The result was a major defeat. The party lost 24 of its previous 42 seats in the parliament. It made a break with the Patriotic People's Movement in 1934 under the newly elected chairman J.K. Paasikivi. Nevertheless it was shut out of government until the outbreak of the Winter War and only slowly gained back support. [14] During both the Winter War and the Continuation War, the party took part in unity governments and generally strongly supported government policies. After the war the National Coalition Party sought to portray itself as defender of democracy against the resurgent Finnish communists. Paasikivi, who had advocated making more concessions to Soviet Union before the Winter War and taken a cautious line with regard to cooperation with Germany before the Continuation War, acted first as Prime Minister (1944-1946) and then as President (1946-1956). The conflict between the party and the communist Finnish People's Democratic League culminated when President Paasikivi fired the Communist Minister of the Interior Yrjö Leino, who had used the security police to spy on the party's youth organization among other abuses. [15][16]

In 1951 the party changed its name from the original Kansallinen Kokoomuspuolue to the current Kansallinen Kokoomus. The 1950s were also a time of ideological reform, as emphasis on individual liberty and free market reforms increased at the expense of social conservatism and maintaining a strong government. A minor division in 1958 led to the formation of the Christian Democrats.

From 1966 to 1987 the party was shut out of government. By criticizing President Urho Kekkonen and Finnish communists, the party had lost the President's trust and governments based on the Centre Party and left-wing parties followed one another. A new guard emerged within the party in the 1970s that sought to improve relations with President Kekkonen. Their work was partially successful in the late 1970s. [17] However, even though the party supported Kekkonen for president in 1978 and became the second biggest party in the country in the 1979 parliamentary election, a place in the government continued to elude it until the end of Kekkonen's time in office.

During the long years in opposition the party's support had grown steadily and in 1987 it attained the best parliamentary election result in its history. Harri Holkeri became the party's first Prime Minister since Paasikivi. During Holkeri's time in office, the Finnish economy suffered a downturn and the 1991 parliamentary election resulted in a loss. The party continued in the government as a junior partner until the 2003 parliamentary election, after which it spent four years in the opposition.

In 1990, the Youth Union of National Coalition was the first significant political organization in Finland to publicly advocate membership in the European Union.[18]

The current party chairman is Jyrki Katainen, who was elected in 2004. In March 2006, Katainen was elected Vice-President of the European People's Party (EPP). He is seen as a dynamic and reforming person by many party members although there have been some doubts in the Finnish media about his lack of experience and relatively young age (born in 1971). The previous party chairman is Ville Itälä, who was elected as a Member of the European Parliament after his term in office in 2003.

The National Coalition Party's candidate in the 2006 Finnish presidential election was former Minister of Finance and ex-party chairman Sauli Niinistö. He qualified for the second round runoff as one of the top two candidates in the first round, but was defeated by the sitting President Tarja Halonen with 51.8% of the vote against his 48.2%. He is currently the Speaker of the Parliament.

Parliamentary election 2007

The National Coalition Party had been in the opposition since the 2003 parliamentary election, in which it suffered a defeat, getting only 18.6% of the votes and losing six seats to bring its total down to 40. (It later gained two seats through defections.) In the 2007 parliamentary election the party increased its share to 50 seats in what was the biggest gain of the elections. The party held a close second place in the Parliament after the Centre Party, which had 51 seats. The Social Democratic Party were third with 45 seats.

After the election the party entered into a coalition government together with the Centre Party, the Green League, and the Swedish People's Party. It currently holds eight of the 20 portfolios in the Cabinet, including the finance portfolio held by Katainen and the foreign affairs portfolio held by Alexander Stubb.

List of party Chairmen

Prominent party leaders

Turku office of the National Coalition Party.

External links

References

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