Kekkonen, Urho Kaleva

Kekkonen, Urho Kaleva o͞or´hô kä´lāvä kĕ´kōnĕn [key], 1900–1986, president of Finland (1956–81). The leading spokesman of the Center party (known as the Agrarian party until 1965), he held various cabinet posts from 1936 and was prime minister from 1950 to 1956. He succeeded Juho Paasikivi as president in 1956. He was reelected in 1962 and 1968, and in 1973 the Finnish parliament voted to extend his term, which was to expire in 1974, until 1978, when he was elected to his final term as president. He resigned for health reasons in 1981, and was succeeded by Mauno Koivisto. Throughout his career, Kekkonen succeeded in maintaining friendly neutrality with the USSR.

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