One hundred years since declaration of independence

Government Communications Department 4.12.2017 11.20
Press release 566/2017
One hundred years since declaration of independence

Precisely one hundred years ago today, 4 December, the Senate of Finland, in other words the Finnish Government, issued a declaration of independence addressed to the people of Finland. In celebration of the centennial, the Government held a ceremonial session headed by Prime Minister to mark the anniversary.

‘One hundred consecutive years of democratic rule by the people is uncommon in the whole world. This distinguishes Finland from many other nations. Our democratic system stretches from the local level all the way to the highest levels of leadership. While celebrating a century of independence we are also celebrating robust Finnish democracy’, noted Prime Minister Sipilä in his Government session speech.

‘The example set by the Senate from a century ago binds governments to this day. The Government must be able to make decisions and to bear responsibility for the decisions it makes. It must carry out the work it was elected to do. We must have the courage to move forward, even if the world around us is unstable’, said the Prime Minister.

Descendants of the Independence Senate members of 1917 also attended the historical day in the Government Palace to reminisce. They assembled in a historical place, the Presidential Room, which served as the Senate Assembly Hall one hundred years ago.

The past and present came face to face when the winners of the 100vision project, organised by the Regional Council of Southwest Finland, invited school classes in Finland to draft a new declaration of independence for Finland. The winning text was one written by Antti Rossinen, Rasmus Keinänen, Olli Kaksonen ja Santeri Leinonen, students of the upper secondary school of Kuopio Lyceum High School.

The Independence Senate, i.e. Svinhufvud’s first Senate, was the first-ever Senate of independent Finland. Parliament had already declared its right to exercise supreme authority in Finland on 15 November 1917. On 4 December 1917, the Senate drafted and issued a declaration of independence addressed to the people of Finland, the content of which Prime Minister Svinhufvud presented to Parliament the very same day. Parliament approved the Senate’s actions for declaring independence on 6 December 1917. Later, in 1919, it was decided that Independence Day would be celebrated every year on 6 December.

Inquiries: Suvi Innilä, Programme Manager, tel. +358 50 597 7552, Päivi Pirttilä, Head of Communications, tel. +358 40 705 3323, and Päivi Paasikoski, Head of Communications, Prime Minister’s Office, tel. +358 40 547 6279, Prime Minister's Office