The newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, May 14, 1918:

To the citizens of Finland.

The topmost dream of the Finnish people has now come true. The mighty events of the Great War have resulted in Finland also winning her political independence. But this valuable thing was not a free gift to us neither. The most bitter type of war, in which members of the same nation take a stand against each another, was the price paid as a ransom for liberation. Our young national army, aided by the great power whose arms made our independence possible, has now fought this battle to the final victory. But losses suffered because of this are enormous. The blood spilled and the lives lost by thousands of self-sacrificing Finnish men, and others who came afar, is the price for this. Thousands have met their deaths by hands of murderers, smoke rises from large areas of our beloved land, hatred and bitterness will long emanate from the traces of the civil war.

But the people of Finland wanted to live and it will do that. Larger and more promising than ever a new future is now open to this nation. We only have to understand, what is now required from us, on this very decisive moment of our history. Thereafter our nation can take a new road towards a life that will be easier, wealthier, happier than ever tasted before.

What the people of Finland has to do now is to lay foundations of her new political existence. A country, which until now has been autonomous only in domestic affairs and which, for many decades, have been deprived of expressions even for this modest freedom, will give birth to an independent Finland. This sets the frameworks to our future constitution.

When building this, the fundamental principle that overshadows all others, is to determine what are the requirements for upholding independence, what is needed to sustain this most valuable thing we have on Earth.

We are not allowed, even for a moment, to forget that the geographical situation of Finland goes along with the greatest danger. Russia has recognized the independence of Finland. Currently she is in a state of internal chaos and external weakness. But it can't take long before a new organized state will be born again in Russia. It will seek ways to regain this lost power, also in external matters. By doing this the eastern giant will again swallow us, probably more completely than ever before. This surely is the end to the Finnish people, to her freedom, nationality, civilization.

To repel this danger we have to exert all our strength. But alone we still remain weak. We have to find support from the only direction from where a positive response can successfully be found, namely, from the mighty military power whose victorious arms gave momentum to the Finnish independence.

This necessity sets the boundaries to the question about our future constitution.

The question to be answered is: do we choose a republic or a constitutional monarchy?

The undersigned are deeply convinced, without any hesitation, that interests that can't be surrended command us to adopt the latter one.

First of all, this is required by the foregoing foreign policy considerations. Only by adopting a monarchical constitution we can strengthen the external status of our young state, which is needed to preserve our independence now overshadowed by perils, this is the way we can best secure the necessary relations to the Central Powers.

There are no foundations in cautioning us about becoming dependent on a great foreign power by this choice. The times, when geographically cornered small countries were able to keep their independence untouched without any support from the stronger ones, are now over. Today, and after this Great War more than ever, the globe will be divided into a few large spheres of interests, and most of the small countries have no other choice than to take one side or the other. Finland especially can't evade this. If we will not seek refuge from the Central Powers, we will be soon drifted into dependence on Russia, which would end in a political, national and cultural ruination of our people.

If our most important objective tells us to choose a monarchy, thus firmly deserting a republic in which continually changing heads of state give no basis for a consistent foreign policy and which will before long lead our nation into a complete disaster, there are also heavy internal reasons which speak for keeping up a constitutional monarchy.

First, it is the traditional form of constitution in Finland. Changing it into a republic, with no independent head of state, would mean a complete revolution in our governmental system, an always doubtful change in itself. Even though Finland never had a domestic sovereign, it is just the constitutional monarchy that can keep our political development in its natural course.

The events of the past year have proven that a strong and firmly based governmental power is what we need for protection of the social order and peace and as a safeguard in upholding genuine civic liberties. In a republic we are confronted with constant difficulty when trying to go on with this kind of government; history tells us that a constitutional monarchy will protect it best.

In a republican form of government unnecessary extra strain will be caused through subduing citizens to a constant political agitation with its incessant presidential elections, in which parties heatedly fight each other thus depriving citizens from any peace for work or livelihood. At least, in our political situation, it is extremely difficult if not impossible to elect to the office of the President a person whose impartiality arouses no suspicions among all groups and layers of the society. But to the contrary history gives proofs. A hereditary prince can stay above the parties. Following his high calling he can represent the unity and permanent interests of the nation and state against parties and classes who simply seek eroding partisan profits. Thus he can be the sorely needed firm anchor in the present irreconcilable political and social life. Objections that a constitutional monarchy is something aristocratic and undemocratic are totally unfounded. Our own history, as well as that of many others, proves the contrary: the throne has been the protection of broad social strata against the aristocracy. The example of many small countries also shows that an originally alien prince will quite soon integrate into the nation that has invited him to be its ruler and that he soon personally wholly adopts this nation's interests.

* * *

We are faced yet with another big question concerning the form of our government. It waits for a permanent solution now when the foundations of new Finland will soon be laid. Is our most important state organ, the popularly elected parliament, able in its present form to cope with the challenges it will meet as the representative body of independent Finland?

Our present parliament is politically tattered, its competence in legislative work and in general, in making judgments on political matters, is not as proficient as it should be. Unsound, even revolutionary aspirations may find there a strong sometimes even decisive sounding board. The parliament represents, as it was recently aptly remarked, accurately all the desires dominant among our people, but poorly the constructing forces within our nation. Only recently we experienced that the latest parliament had a composition where nearly half of it, the part that once was the majority, rose up in armed rebellion against the parliament itself and against all legal and civilized order, even allying itself with the military of the country's former oppressor. Likewise, it is a hard fact that the latest parliament was unable to establish any order sustaining authority or to find such political outlets that could have prevented the disaster and disgrace caused by this rebellion.

The drawbacks caused by the weakness of this parliamentary system have been substantial even before this. But we were able to live with them in our past political position. Up till now the Finnish parliament possessed only a relatively marginal power. Only with the consent of the sovereign the parliament was capable of changing or passing laws. The sovereign was able to decide on the state finances relatively freely and totally autocratically on country's government and administration. It should furthermore be kept in mind that, until now, Finland did not have any foreign policy, and therefore understanding of military matters, what is now needed to preserve the country's independence, has been of no relevance in the past representative system.

From now on everything changes. So whatever form of government shall we adopt, in what form will it be written, the focal point in governing Finland in the parliament will be not only in the legislative work but also in its relation to the government in power. This follows simply from the fact that the parliament has to expand its say in the economy so that the government in power shall be financially completely dependent on the parliament. The proper care of domestic state affairs and of relations to foreign countries will be conducted in an approved way only if the parliament is able to assess and satisfy the various needs of political life, and furthermore, is able to garner sufficiently large and unified majority, which shall be ready to support our general government.

Reflecting the past experiences where our current parliamentary system showed deep inadequacy in carrying out rather small-scope duties, emanating from its limited power, one has great difficulties in understanding how it can, even when just a low-level quality is regarded as acceptable, fulfill the much larger duties, which will be loaded on it in its capacity as the authoritative representative body of an independent nation. If lack of legislative and other expertise has already caused harm now when the government had all the power to nullify almost all parliamentary resolutions and this way, bypassing the parliament, to carry on taking care of running the country, then, how much more perilous might those weaknesses prove when there will exist no counterbalance or independent administration?

Experience also shows that in its present composition our parliament is totally incompetent in producing legislative changes in the most important questions of our social reforms. The big questions on the agenda, like releasing small holdings from compulsory labour service to landowners and acquisition of land to the landless, question of country's roads and many others that still wait to be solved, give a visible evidence on this. We need both constructive work to carry out fruitfully the reforms needed to improve the circumstances, now unsatisfactory to a large strata in our society, as well as support to those forces who protect the society and bring the ability to adjust ourselves to the new political situation in the parliament.

We, the undersigned, can see only one alternative, if the Finnish nation wants to exist politically, that is: to induce such a change in the composition of the parliament that creates it a better proficiency to fulfill its present and new duties.

The universal suffrage, which forms the only election criterion for the present parliament, is too narrow for this. Attention to this has been paid when a public representative bodies were created even in democratic countries. For us, at the time when this unicameral system was started, one could motivate it with the fact that a very strong and independent administrative government gave a sufficient counterbalance to the slanted universal suffrage. Now that this counter balance is lost, it is our duty to implant it into the parliamentary structure where it naturally belongs.

Supplementing the parliament this way might, with least trouble, be accomplished by replenishing it with new members that could give it more expertise and politico-social competence in general. The old elective system would remain untouched. This supplement might best be provided by authorizing certain large social groups, representing nationally important fields of duty and social interests, to elect a certain number of special representatives to the parliament. The question itself, what those social and interest groups of pivotal importance might be, should naturally be scrutinized carefully. It is self-evident that the farmers tilling their own lands will be one of them. They form everywhere the basic solid foundation for country and society, for which the best evidence was given by the fact, without any exaggeration, that the rescue from the recent rebellion can fully be credited to farmers taking up arms. In what extent groups of true work, business life and intellectual cultivation should be represented, is a matter in need of a thorough discussion.


There never has been a more crucial moment in the history of the Finnish people than now. The choices we now make, most of all in the two big questions handled above, lay foundations to the future happiness and prosperity of our nation. They will determine if our internal dissension will keep thwarting us in all genuine work for progress, will unruliness and lack of discipline smother our age-old civil liberties, will Finland remain a quarrelsome state short of energy soon ready to fall into ever more dependant on the destructive forces of the East; or will Finland become a healthy strong nation enjoying a real liberty and being able to defend the costly acquired independence and being able in the future to protect and increase the from fathers inherited precious riches of her western civilization. This decision will define, if the high spiritual, blood and material sacrifices for the Fatherland, which are endowed during centuries by our nation and are given now again, come to nothing, or will they now, when time calls, grow into a genuinely free, strong and happy Finland, into something that they who made the sacrifices were dreaming of.

Helsinki, the 10th of May, 1918.

A. H. Bergholm.
Doctor of Philosophy.

Einar Böök.
Head of government office.

Knut Cannelin.
Dr. Philos.

J.R. Danielson-Kalmari.
State Councillor.

Leo Ehrnrooth.
Former senator.

Ernst Estlander.

Mauri Honkajuuri.
Bank Director.

Eirik Hornborg.

P.J. Hynninen.
Bank Director.

Emil af Hällström.
State councillor for agriculture.

Gust. Rud. Idman.
State councillor of medicine.

K.G. Idman.
Dr. Jur.

Volter Kilpi.

Kaarlo Koskimies.
Editor-in-chief of "Uusi Päivä".

Head of manufacturing industry.

Mikko Latva.
Bank director.

K.S. Laurila.
Associate professor.

J.Ax. Levonius.
Bank director.

W. Malmivaara.
Clergy dean.

Harald Neovius.

E. Nevanlinna.
Former senator.

Otto Nevanlinna.
Senior teacher.

Alpo Noponen.
Primary school teacher.

J.K. Paasikivi.
Former senator.

E.G. Palmén.
Councillor of state.

K.A. Paloheimo.
Dr. Philos.

K.N. Rantakari.
Bank director.

Hugo Rautapää.
Former senator.

Alvar Renqvist.
Director of Otava Publ. House.

Eric v. Rettig.
Manor owner.

Jalmari Sahlbom.
Director of S.O.K.

Uno Saxén.
Dr. Philos.

Emil Schybergson.

J.J. Sederholm.

K. Snellman.
Head of government office.

H.F. Soveri.
Dr. Philos.

Otto Stenroth.

Adolf V. Streng.

Eino Suolahti.
Lic. med.

Hugo Suolahti.

Antti Tulenheimo.
Former senator.

Yrjö Wichmann.

F.O. Viitanen.
Editor-in-chief of "Satakunnan Kansa".

Anders Wiksten.
Bank director.

Artturi H. Virkkunen.
Editor-in-chief of "Uusi Suometar".

R.A. Wrede.
Former senator.

Ferd. v. Wright.
Director of "O.Y. Agros".

Translated from the Finnish original by Pauli Kruhse (© 2007).
Newspaper appeal for the republic.

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