The Republic made peace with Soviet Russia

In 1919, a republican form of government regained popularity after the 1918 monarchy escapade. Next year, the country made peace with Soviet Russia. Starting from the autumn of 1918, Red prisoners were gradually released. In 1921, there were some 1,000 of them left in prison.

The plans to make Finland a monarchy fell through as Germany suffered defeat in the First World War. The proponents of a republican form of government gained a clear majority in the parliament in the March 1919 elections. However, in the parliamentary reading, the first version of the law did not receive a sufficient majority to be declared urgent. On Heikki Ritavuori’s proposal, the parliament’s right to dismiss the president was removed from the bill, after which it received the necessary additional support from the Coalition Party. The parliament passed the constitution bill on 21 June and declared it urgent.

The new constitution still needed to be signed by the State Regent C. G. Mannerheim. A group of right-wing activists tried to prevent it because they feared that the new president would put an end to their plans of invading East Karelia and Petsamo. Mannerheim promised the activists his support if they were able to get the support of the Western Powers and the Coalition Party but, as that did not happen, he ratified the new constitution in July 1919. The new constitution repealed the 1772 constitution and the 1789 Union and Security Act.

K. J. Ståhlberg, the first president of the Supreme Administrative Court established in 1918, was elected the first President of the Republic of Finland. In the election carried out by the parliament, Ståhlberg, who had joined the National Progress Party, received 143 votes against State Regent Mannerheim’s 50. Ståhlberg got the votes of the left-wing and centre parties.

In the Tartu peace treaty, Soviet Russia recognised the 1812 border and handed over Petsamo

In the Tartu peace talks between Finland and Soviet Russia, Finland’s territorial requirements covered both Eastern Karelia and Petsamo as well as the Kola peninsula. In the peace treaty, concluded on 14 October 1920, Finland received Petsamo, which had been promised to Finland by Emperor Alexander II in 1864 in exchange for the areas surrounding the Sestroretsk arms factory. The essence of the treaty was that Soviet Russia recognised the historical borders of Finland, which meant the 1812 borders of the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland.

In accordance with the peace treaty, Finland returned to Russia the municipalities of Repola and Porajärvi, which had decided to join Finland. Upset by the treaty, Bobi Sivén, Repola’s temporary police chief, shot himself. For the Academic Karelia Society (AKS), established in 1922, he was a martyr and a hero. AKS sought to create a so-called Greater Finland by joining the Finnic peoples living near the Eastern border to Finland. Finland also stopped supporting the Republic of Kirjasalo, located in Ingria.

The far right was disappointed with the outcome of the peace talks. The participation of Finnish volunteers in the revolts of the Finnic peoples in various parts of Soviet Russia continued to cause conflicts between the two countries in the next few years. The idea of a Greater Finland won support especially among the Finnish-speaking university students, which was reflected both in student politics and in national politics.