The Mint of Finland has launched (June 20) the second coin in its new “Presidents of Finland” series, which will highlight the eight Presidents of Finland elected since independence was achieved in 1917. The second coin pays tribute to Lauri Kristian Relander (1883-1942), who held the office from 1925 to 1931.
Relander’s father was the agronomist Evald Kristian Relander and Lauri Kristian decided at an early age that he would also study agronomy. He became frustrated with his academic career, however, and undertook a significant change in direction to become a civil servant and politician for the Agrarian Party. This move was more of a success, as the sociable and conciliatory Relander was elected as a member of Finland’s autonomous Parliament for the first time in 1910, rising to the ranks of the Agrarian Party’s leadership around 1917, the same year as Finnish independence.
After independence from the Russian Empire, the Agrarian Party grew in strength, achieving 26 seats out of 200 in 1917 and more than doubling their representation to 42 in 1919. Relander rose to become speaker of parliament for its 1919 session and part of its 1920 session. In the latter year he was also appointed governor of the Province of Viipuri, or Vyborg as it is now known.
Finland’s first president, Kaarlo Juho Ståhlberg (1865 – 1952), was elected by parliament in 1919, but in 1925 the system of electing the president was changed to employ an electoral college of 300 members. The election of the members took place in January of 1925; although he did not enjoy sufficient support within his own party, Relander, only 41 at the time, was chosen as the candidate of the Agrarian Party. His opposition candidate was Risto Ryti of the Progessive Party and in the third round of voting Relander received the votes of the Agrarian Party, the National Coalition Party, and the Swedish People’s Party, beating Ryti by 172 to 109 votes.
During the early months of Relander’s presidency, there was much criticism aimed at his youth and his lack of experience in national politics. In terms of foreign policy, Relander viewed the Soviet Union in the same line as that of other non-socialist countries, who would have preferred to see the Bolshevik communist system collapse. Relander believed that Finland had a bridge-building role as far as Scandinavia and the newly independent Baltic States were concerned, as they and Finland shared a similar experience with the former Russian empire. From Finland’s viewpoint, a Scandinavian-Baltic union, with strong political and economic ties with Britain and Germany, would ensure peace with their large neighbor to the east. During his tenure, Relander conducted state visits to Estonia, Sweden, Latvia, Denmark, and Norway. His visits were important in presenting his young nation on an international stage, creating a positive image of Finland in the countries he visited.
Relander’s hopes for a second term as president were dashed by the fact that in 1931 the Agrarian Party, who had supported his candidacy in 1925, had chosen another well-known member to stand. He was succeeded by the opposition candidate Pehr Evind Svinhufvud (1861 – 1944). After his term expired, Relander left the political arena and returned to private life. He died unexpectedly at the age of 59 from a heart attack and was buried in the country’s capital of Helsinki.
The coin, designed by Tero Lounas, portrays President Relander in a three quarter right-facing image, along with his name, year of birth, and year of death placed along the edge and around the portrait.
The reverse features a landscape of Finnish fields, framing an open book depicting a constructed urban environment. All coins in the series will share the same reverse design.
|5 €URO||Bi-metallic||9.8 Grams||27.2 mm.||BU||30,000 pieces|
|5 €URO||Bi-metallic||9.8 Grams||27.2 mm.||Proof||6000 pieces|
A total of eight collector coins paying tribute to the presidents of Finland are planned for the series, with the coins for P.E. Svinhufvud and Kyösti Kallio to be launched in 2016. Releases featuring Risto Ryti, C.G.E. Mannerheim, J.K. Paasikivi, and U.K. Kekkonen are planned for 2017.
The “Presidents of Finland” coin series is part of a wider celebration of the Finland 100 program, which will highlight the centennial of Finland’s independence during 2016 – 2017. For more information on this and other coins offered by the Mint of Finland, please visit their Web site. International sales will be dispatched where applicable. Coin images courtesy of the Mint of Finland.