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Finland's declaration of independence

From Academic Kids

The Finnish declaration of independence was adopted by the Parliament of Finland on December 6, 1917. It aimed at elevating Finland from being an autonomous Russian Grand Duchy into an independent and sovereign nation-state.

Revolution in Russia

The February Revolution, 1917, and even more so Lenin's Bolshevist October Revolution, had ignited hopes also in the Grand Duchy of Finland. After abdication of Tsar Nicholas II on March 15, 1917, the personal union between Russia and Finland lost its legal base – at least according to the view in Helsinki.

On November 15, the Parliament had consequently declared itself to be "the possessor of supreme State power" in Finland, based on Finland's Constitution, and more precisely on ß38 (http://sources.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regeringsform_1772#%C2%A7_38.) in the old Instrument of Government of 1772, which had been enacted by the Estates after Gustav III's bloodless coup.

The old Instrument of Government was however no longer deemed suitable. Leading circles had long held monarchism and hereditary nobility to be antiquated, and advocated a republican constitution for Finland.

The Senate of Finland, the government the Parliament had appointed in November, came back to the Parliament with a proposal for a new republican Instrument of Government on December 4th. The Declaration of Independence was technically given the form of a preamble of the proposition, and was intended to be agreed by the Parliament.

The Declaration

With reference to the declaration of November 15, the declaration says:

The people of Finland have by this step taken their fate in their own hands; a step both justified and demanded by present conditions. The people of Finland feel deeply that they cannot fulfil their national and international duty without complete sovereignty. The century-old desire for freedom awaits fulfilment now; Finland's people step forward as a free nation among the other nations in the world.
(...) The people of Finland dare to confidently await how other nations in the world recognize that with their full independence and freedom, the people of Finland can do their best in fulfilment of those purposes that will win them a place amongst civilized peoples.

Hardship burdened the common people, which already had resulted in alarming polarization, and soon would ignite the Civil War. The declaration actually addresses this problem:

The Government will approach foreign powers to seek the recognition of our political independence. All the complications, famine and unemployment ensuing from the present external isolation make it urgent for the Government to tie direct contacts with foreign powers without delay. Urgent, concrete assistance in the form of necessities for living and industry is our only rescue from imminent famine and industrial standstill.

On December 6, the Parliament adopted the Declaration, which is why that day is the national holiday for Independence in Finland.


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