Lauri Kristian Relander (May 31, 1883 – February 9, 1942) was the President of Finland from 1925 to 1931.
Relander was born in Kurkijoki , in Finland. He was christened Lars Kristian, but his name was finnicized to Lauri during his time at school. His father was an agronomist and Relander followed in his father's footsteps by studying agronomy. His major subjects for his Master's degree were agricultural chemistry and agricultural economics, but his efforts to find a senior lecturer position failed. From 1908 to 1917 he was a research worker at a state agricultural experimental institution. Relander also became politically active in the Finnish Agrarian Party and was elected to parliament in 1910. By 1917 he had become one of the leaders of the party.
After independence, his political career went well. He was the Speaker of the Eduskunta for its 1919 session and part of its 1920 session and in 1920 he was also appointed Governor of the Province of Viipuri. However, in the 1920s he did not have enough support in his own party to become a minister. He became his party’s presidential candidate just days before the 1925 election and was elected mainly because he was seen as an alternative to Risto Ryti.
As a president, Relander was politically inexperienced and young. Politicians and other opinion leaders could not take him seriously. Relander had no political base to speak of, and he was deemed to have no particular program for his precidency, which further decreased his support. Even Relander's continual state visits and trips drew criticism. He was continually compared to Kaarlo Juho Ståhlberg, who hadn't travelled abroad. The cabinets during his term tended to be weak, short-lived minority cabinets, like in most European democracies of that time. All in all, Relander is remembered as a weak leader, and also good things he did has been rather critically assessed.
In 1931, Relander realized he would not be re-elected and sabotaged the prospects of Kyösti Kallio, so that Pehr Evind Svinhufvud, Relander’s former prime minister, was elected.
After his term as President, he served as the general manager of a fire insurance company for rural people. Relander died in 1942 of heart failure.
Last updated: 05-06-2005 14:59:36