Crisis and patchwork
According to Countryaah, the parliamentary system ended in a crisis situation in 1929, due to conflict between the bourgeois parties at the same time as the difficult economic crisis. The center of Finnish politics probably stood for parliamentary democracy, but at the same time it shared the experiences and traditions of 1918 with the right wing.
The civil war had led to a deep contradiction between Finnish citizenship and the Soviet Union. For the entire bourgeoisie, the communists appeared only as agents of Moscow. Finland was also the only country in Europe where all civic parties supported an unofficial armed organization, the Guard Corps – the backbone of the White Army from 1918. It was impossible for the center in 1929-30 to uphold the 1918 traditions and at the same time defend the parliamentary democracy. When the Lappo movement, led by right-wing extremists, demanded a ban on the “Moscow agents” from participating in parliament, the center was ideologically defenseless. The Lapp movement differed from contemporary fascism knows that it had its background in a political crisis within the bourgeoisie, and not like other places in economic and social problems that had to be solved by abolishing democracy because the labor movement was too strong. Still, the background of the Lapp movement was a strike wave that revived the contradictions between the red and the whites. The development of the labor market caused the Social Democrats major problems as long as the trade union movement was not considered legitimate. The problem was solved by leaving the Communist-led LO in 1929 and in 1930 a new national organization – the JRC. The Social Democrats’ anti-communism had been reinforced because they were convinced that the communist enterprise was in every way detrimental to the labor movement.
During the 1929 LO Congress, the non-reformist labor movement also had major internal problems. The professional sector tried to reach a compromise, but came to stand alone as FKP led a hard line. The party held on to the Strasbourg Mountains and treated reformists as social fascists.
The result of the contradiction within the labor movement was, first of all, a disastrous weakening of the trade union organization: During the crisis in the 1930’s there was no vigorous trade union movement in the country. Second, the labor movement was unable to impede the progress of the Lapp movement.
The Lapp movement pushed the bourgeois parties to deprive the Communists of all legal activities. The collective interest of workers was also weakened. All of the bourgeois MPs voted in favor of a law that made it a criminal offense to exert pressure on strikers. In the fall of 1930, the parliamentary elections were swindled and the electorate terrorized. As a result, the Left (now the Social Democrats) got significantly fewer seats than ever before.
A formal dictatorship was not created anyway, although the real power in the summer of 1930 lay with the Lappo movement. The crisis could be solved simply by restricting democracy and by a government coalition consisting of all the bourgeois parties. Thus, the political stability demanded by the big finances was restored.
In Finland, it was still possible to keep state economic policy oriented towards lowering the cost level – above all wages. The initiative was with the Bank of Finland, which pursued a strict monetary policy. The intention was to make the wood processing industry as competitive as possible. It dominated the country’s economy and accounted for 75% of exports. From the autumn of 1931, exports increased rapidly. Thus, the same mechanism behind the strong economic growth of the 20’s had been put into operation. In the 1930’s, when most European countries experienced economic stagnation, the difference between Finland and the more developed capitalist countries diminished.
In the short term, economic policy intensified the contradictions between the bourgeois. Above all, it made it impossible for the Agricultural Association to cooperate with the other bourgeois parties. The Progress Party and the Swedish People’s Party – especially after the coup attempt in the winter of 1931 – began to criticize the government. On the other hand, the Alliance Party had allied itself with the Fosterland People’s Movement (IKL), which was founded after the Lapp movement had been banned because of the coup attempt. The political system ended up in a new crisis situation, with a “von Papen government” as in Germany the only alternative. The second was a minority government made up of the bourgeois petty parties. The latter was chosen. The parliamentary backing got the government from the Social Democrats, who had no alternative.
Developments in Finland thus differed significantly from the rest of Scandinavia. From the beginning of the century, the threat of the working class had been neutralized through social reforms. In Finland, this was not necessary after the Civil War. The labor movement in the rest of Scandinavia had also been strong enough to ensure that civil liberties could not be violated. The Finnish were too weak to secure it. With the crisis in the 1930’s, the labor parties were given state-carrying functions in the rest of Scandinavia. In Finland, in the 1930’s, the Social Democrats were not strong enough to recognize workers’ collective interests. When in 1937 Finland was granted a unifying government consisting of social democrats and the Agrarian Federation, it had only formal similarities with similar coalitions in the rest of Scandinavia.