Eighty years on: Mäntsälä Rebellion was a Finnish road not taken. Right-wing radical coup of 1932 thwarted by strong Nordic tradition of adherence to law.
Eighty years ago, the so-called Mäntsälä Rebellion had all the ingredients for a full-blown coup.
An armed militia group prevented a speech being delivered by a Social Democrat MP, then barricaded itself in the Civil Guard headquarters in Mäntsälä and began to pressurise the local governor and the Minister of the Interior to resign.
The men of Mäntsälä [a small town about 60 kilometres north of the capital] received the enthusiastic backing of the far-right radical Lapua Movement, with a history of actions - often violent and always of a non-Parliamentary nature - that sought to restrain a perceived Communist threat in the young country emerging from the Civil War.
The Lapua Movement upped the ante and demanded the resignation of the entire cabinet.
It reinforced its demands by issuing an order of general mobilisation to its followers. The call was answered by some 6,000 men from around the country.
The rebellion lasted just over a week and ended on Sunday March 6th, 1932, with the dispersal of the armed bands and the arrest of the leaders.
Shortly thereafter, the Lapua Movement was banned by law.
The dénouement of the Mäntsälä Rebellion was strikingly different from the European mainstream of the day.
"Elsewhere internal crises such as this one tended to end up in coups d'état by either the conservative or radical factions. In the Europe of the 1930s, there were only a dozen or so democratic states", notes Senior Lecturer Vesa Vares from the Department of Political History at the University of Turku.
In the Finnish case, a conservative seizure of power would have meant that President Pehr Evind Svinhufvud (1861-1944, head of state from 1931 to 1937) would have used the rebellion as a means of taking control with the backing of the Finnish Army.
"A radical coup on the German or Italian model would on the other hand have seen a dictatorship led by the Lapua Movement or by its nationalist and anti-Communist successors IKL (the Isänmaallinen Kansanliike, or 'Patriotic People's Movement')", explains Vares.
Neither of these outcomes came to pass. What was it that caused the rebellion to dry up and to preserve democracy in the fledgling Republic of Finland?
"Lack of a leader", says Docent Lasse Laaksonen from the University of Helsinki.
The rebels got themselves a military commander from the Secretary-General of the Lapua Movement K.M. Wallenius, a Major-General and the former Chief of General Staff of the Army, but no sufficiently powerful political leader surfaced to carry things forward.