Sleighs jingled merrily through Finland's pine forests, snowplows roared up and down the streets of Helsinki (Helsingfors). In a nationwide, nose-nipping blizzard last week hardy Finns decided by ballot between continuance of Prohibition and inauguration of State Liquor Control.
In Helsinki, the capital, women cast red ballots, surprised everyone by plumping for State Liquor Control. In all, 82% of the capital's vote was for repeal of Prohibition, and of this landslide of ballots more than 55% were red.
On polling day no speeches and no posters of any sort were permitted. Previously Finns favoring continuance of Prohibition had postered the city with statements that "those who vote wet will be punished on the day of judgment." On election morn, since the Government had forbidden both Drys and Wets to distribute handbills, the Drys laid upon every doorstep in Helsinki a copy of a Dry newspaper ap-pealing editorially for support of Prohibition. In not a single Helsinki district, however, was a Dry majority polled.
Returns from the rural districts, reputed strongholds of Prohibition, were slow coming in. But when a 37-to-1 Wet majority was recorded, with two-thirds of the votes in. Minister of Justice T. O. Kivimaki said: "Reason has conquered." Then he began to draft a Government bill for State Liquor Control. The electorate had understood from the first that such a bill would be drawn up should Prohibition fail to win. Technically, however, votes were cast for:
Light Wines & Beer 10,332
The Government last week held stocks of liquor worth $3,600,000 recently seized from Finnish bootleggers in a "battle" with Prohibition agents which cost 14 lives. This liquor the Government expected to sell through its prospective Liquor Control Stores. Said the Governor of the Bank of Finland, suave Mr. Risto Ryti: "Finland could not afford to leave her liquor untaxed and her liquor trade in the hands of professional criminals."
"What makes us sad," commented Rev. Sigfrid Sirenius, one of Helsinki's leading settlement workers, "is to think that revenue from the sale of liquor will soon figure as the basis of the national budget. . . . The local deduction will be that it will be a patriotic duty to drink heavily, so that the State will get more revenue."
Darkly Speaker Kyosti Kallio of the Finnish Parliament observed: "No blessing can come from liquor either stored in homes or in distilleries."
In 1917 when Finland broke away from Russia and became a Republic, Professor Lucina Hagman was a leading female Dry in the successful fight which set up Finnish Prohibition in 1919. Thirteen years of Prohibition having changed her views, Professor Hagman exclaimed after the polling: "The Finnish home has been saved!"
Naturally U. S. Wets were immoderately jubilant last week. But there are, after all, only 3,600,000 Finns. Making the most of this incontrovertible fact, Research Secretary Deets Pickett of the U. S. Methodist Board of Temperance, Prohibition and Public Morals released a press statement headed Little Finland vs. A World of Greed.