Esko Aho

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Esko Tapani Aho (born May 20, 1954) is a statesman and former Prime Minister of Finland.[1]


Early life and career

Aho was born in Veteli, Finland. Prior to attending university, he began a career in politics. From 1974 to 1979, he was Chairman of the Finnish Centre Youth, which had before him grown many of his predecessors to high political situations. In 1978, he became a Presidential elector, a position he also held in 1982 and 1998. From 1979 to 1980, Ano was Political Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. From 1980 to 1983, he was a trade promoter for the Kannus municipality.[2]

Aho studied at the Helsingin yliopisto (University of Helsinki), receiving a Master of Social Science degree in 1981.[2]

Parliamentary career

Aho was first elected to the eduskunta (Finnish Parliament) in 1983. He became Chairman of the Centre Party in 1990, a position that he held until 2002. The party is one of three major political parties in Finland.[3]

At 36 years of age, he was the youngest Prime Minister in Finnish history.[4]

Aho was the prime minister of the centre-right coalition government (Centre Party, National Coalition Party, Christian Democrats and Swedish People's Party) from 1991 to 1995. He is best known for leading Finland into the European Union.[4] Aho's own party, gaining most of its support from rural areas, was the most opposed the EU membership among major parties, the greatest concern was the agricultural situation.,[5] but was persuaded behind it due to prime minister's diplomacy. Finland applied for EU membership on 16 March 1992 and a referendum was held two and a half years later.[6] Aho's government faced also the deep economic depression of the early 1990s. Its stringent cut-and-save policy and its plans to lower unemployment rate made it unpopular, which partly caused its fall in the 1995 election and Centre Party's eight-year period in opposition.

He was known by the nickname "Kannuksen Kennedy" ("The Kennedy of Kannus", Kannus being his hometown) due to his streamlined and well coiffed habitus[disambiguation needed], a comparison with United States President John F. Kennedy.

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