President of Finland (1946-56). Juho Kusti Paasikivi, born November 27, 1870, received a doctorate in law in 1901. He was a university teacher (1899-1903) but was appointed director of the State Financial Office (1903-14). From 1914 to 1934 he was a member of the board and managing director of the Kansallispankki, a leading business bank.
During his early political years Paasikivi was a member of the Eduskunta (parliament, 1907-9, 1910-13), a senator (1908-9), and deputy chairman of the Financial Committee of the Senate in 1918. Paasikivi wished to become Finland's first president, but finding little or no support, he preferred a monarchy. Consequently, he left the political stage but was chairman of the National Coalition Party in the 1930s.
Paasikivi's political comeback was related to his fellow Finns' increasing perceptions of the threat of war toward the end of the 1930s. He became Finnish ambassador to Sweden (1936-40) then to the USSR (1940-41). He was a member of the government during the Winter War (1939-1940). At the end of Finland's renewed war with the USSR (1941-44), the Continuation War, in 1944 Paasikivi became prime minister. Paasikivi and President Carl Mannerheim, in light with the military success of the Soviet Union were compelled to shift the nation from the war against the Soviet Union to war against its former ally, Germany. In 1946, according to Paasikivi's wish, Mannerheim resigned and the Eduskunta elected Paasikivi president.
In the 1950 presidential elections Paasikivi was expected to win without serious competition. This fact did not change when Urho Kekkonen, a close friend and partner, unexpectedly challenged him. Paasikivi was elected in the first round of balloting, and Kekkonen remained prime minister in most governments during Paasikivi's second term. Paasikivi did not wish to continue in office by 1956, at the age of eighty-five. However, some electors, mainly from the Conservative Party, persuaded Paasikivi to enter the second round in the Electoral College to prevent Kekkonen from becoming president. Paasikivi accepted the invitation because the delegation asking him promised a unanimous election. However, both big parties, the Agrarian Union and the Social Democrats, voted for their own candidates, Kekkonen and Fagerholm, respectively. Furthermore, the Communists divided their votes between Kekkonen and Fagerholm, who continued to the third round. Paasikivi, who was ultimately elected, died at the end of the same year.
Paasikivi, as chairman of the Finnish Peace Commission in 1940, prime minister, and president, concentrated on building working relations between Finland and the Soviet Union. He understood the Russian language and culture and had direct contacts with Soviet politicians during his years in Moscow. He adopted the conciliatory approach to Russian power politics of the Old Finns, who before independence in 1918 had been willing to comply with Russia interference in the internal affairs of the Grand Dutchy of Finland. As a result Paasikivi opened a new opportunity for Finnish foreign policy by maintaining that the Soviet Union had no inherent desire to occupy Finland or crush its Nordic political institutions, but only wished to guarantee Soviet security needs along its northwest border against aggressors, namely, Germany and its allies. Paasikivi's doctrine was important in establishing peaceful external relations for rebuilding the country after World War II and the depressed national identity. It also gave the Soviet Union a basis for accepting Finland's neutrality and democracy. The new foreign policy orientation soon acquired the name Paasikivi Line. During the 1956 presidential campaign Kekkonen's supporters coined the term Paasikivi-Kekkonen Line, implying