Courtesy Reuters

Finland Stands Guard

IT IS a measure of the steadiness of the character of the Finns that elections for the Finnish Parliament seem the most predictable in the world. There are no landslides. A loss or gain of a seat or two by this or that party is news. In the elections of March of this year, the Social Democrats gained one seat, the Agrarians two, the People's Democrats (the label under which the Communist Party operates) came out with exactly the same number as in 1951, the Conservatives lost four, the People's Party (successor to the Progressive Party) gained three, the Swede-Finns lost two. But even so, some predictions were upset; the Communists had been expected to lose seats in this election. And so sensitive is the area inhabited by these steady-going people that students of East-West relationships scan all information from Finland to determine whether "no news" is good or bad news.

It is good news that Finland is still staunchly on guard. It is interesting to note that the Soviet Union exerted no pressure on the Finns. The election campaign coincided, in part, with the Four Power Berlin Conference, where the Soviets made plain that they have every intention not only of holding on to all Communist gains in Europe and the Far East, but of pressing their aggressive designs. The proposal for a "European" security pact that would include the U.S.S.R. but exclude the United States was accompanied by intransigence toward Germany and Austria and intensification of the attack on Indo-China in keeping with the customary Communist tactics of global war, cold and hot. Yet, significantly perhaps, when the Russians were probing everywhere else, they were content to let their northern flank rest quiet. It is also important to remember that Finland stands guard there alone.

In the conflict between East and West, Finland has by now come to occupy a special position. Defeated in the two-phase war of 1939-44 caused by two Soviet attacks, the Finns were

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