Finland: End of an Era

Kekkonen quits the presidency

There was only one item on the agenda last week as seven Finnish Cabinet members gathered in emergency session in Helsinki's Government House: acceptance of a resignation letter written in the shaky hand of President Urho Kaleva Kekkonen, 81, a victim for the past few years of progressive hardening of the arteries. Although inevitable, Kekkonen's departure still shocked many of the 4.8 million Finns, who cannot remember any other presidential figure than the tall, bald, once athletic man who has guided Finland since 1956.

As best he could, Kekkonen worked out a way for Finland to exist...

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