Swedish People's Party of Finland

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Swedish People's Party of Finland
Svenska folkpartiet i Finland
Finnish nameSuomen ruotsalainen kansanpuolue
LeaderAnna-Maja Henriksson
Founded1906
HeadquartersSimonsgatan 8 A
Helsingfors, Finland
Student wingLiberala Studerande LSK [sv][1]
Youth wingSvensk Ungdom
Women's wingSvenska Kvinnoförbundet[1]
Membership (2016)30,000[2]
Ideology
Political positionCentre
European affiliationAlliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
International affiliationLiberal International
European Parliament groupRenew Europe
Nordic affiliationCentre Group
Colours  Yellow
Parliament (including Åland Coalition)
10 / 200
European Parliament
1 / 14
Municipalities
463 / 8,999
Website
www.sfp.fi

The Swedish People's Party of Finland (Swedish: Svenska folkpartiet i Finland (SFP); Finnish: Suomen ruotsalainen kansanpuolue (RKP)) is a political party in Finland aiming to represent the interests of the minority Swedish-speaking population of Finland.[3][4][5] The party is currently participating in the government of Sanna Marin, holding the positions of Minister of Justice and Minister for Nordic Cooperation and Equality.

An ethnic catch-all party,[6] the party's main election issue has been since its inception the Swedish-speaking Finns' right to their own language and to maintain the position of the Swedish language in Finland.[7] Ideologically, it is liberal-centrist[8] or social-liberal,[9] and it sits at the centre of the political spectrum,[10] and identifies as pro-European.[11] The party was in governmental position 1979–2015 with one or two seats in the government and collaborated with the centre-right as well as the centre-left parties in the Parliament of Finland.

The fact that both the Finnish centre-right and centre-left have needed the support from the party has meant that they have been able to affect politics of Finland on a larger scale than the party's actual size would suggest. The position of the Swedish language as one of two official languages in Finland and the Swedish-speaking minority's right to the Swedish culture are two of the results of the party's influence in Finnish politics. The party is a member of the Liberal International, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe and Renew Europe. The youth organisation of the party is called Svensk Ungdom ("Swedish Youth").

History and electorate[edit]

Swedish People's Party election poster from 1907, with ”the man with the flag”, that after this was used as party emblem for over 50 years.[12] Designed by Alex Federley.

The Swedish Party (1870–1906), a parliamentary elite party based on members in the Diet of Finland, is the historical predecessor of the Swedish People's Party of Finland. It was a part of the Svecoman movement and its main policy was opposition of the Fennoman movement.

Unlike Fennomans who were largely liberal on other matters than the language question, the Svecoman were conservative. Axel Lille and Axel Olof Freudenthal are often considered as some of the main "founding fathers" of the movement. Most members of the Liberal Party joined the Swedish Party in the 1880s, after the Liberals ceased to exist as a distinct party. The Swedish People's Party of Finland was founded in the 1906 party congress of the Swedish Party, making it one of the oldest parties in Finland. The first leader of Swedish People's Party was Axel Lille.

The current leader of the party is Anna-Maja Henriksson.[13] In the Parliament of Finland the representative for Åland is usually included in SFP's parliamentary group, regardless of his/her party affiliation. This is because the political parties in Åland have no counterparts in Mainland Finland,[clarification needed] but the SFP's interests have much in common with those of Åland as far as the Swedish language is concerned.

The party receives its main electoral support from the Swedish speaking minority, which makes up about 5.5% of Finland's population.[14] During its history, the party has suffered slow but steady decline in adherence, following the decline of the percentage of Swedish-speaking population: in 1907 it got 12% of national votes, after World War II 7% and in the 2011 parliamentary election 4.3% (9 MPs). In municipal elections, it holds large majorities in municipalities with a Swedish-speaking majority.

Despite its position as one of the minor political parties in the Finnish parliament it has frequently been one of the partners forming the governing coalition cabinets. Since 1956, the year when Urho Kekkonen was elected President, the party has been nearly continuously in the government. It has been part of all coalitions with the significant exception of Paasio's first cabinet (1966–68), which included only socialists (Social Democratic Party (SDP), the split SDP faction Social Democratic Union of Workers and Smallholders and Finnish People's Democratic League) and the Centre Party.

Short periods of rule by single-party minority governments, Miettunen cabinet (1961–62, Centre) and Paasio's second government (1972, SDP) and of nonpartisan caretaker governments have also interrupted its stay in the government. For this reason, SFP is often criticized for being a single-issue party that allegedly accepts nearly all other policies as long as its own vital interest, the status of the Swedish language is maintained.

However, although Vanhanen's first cabinet made Swedish a voluntary subject in the upper secondary school's matriculation exam, SFP remained in the government. In contrast, the Greens left the previous government after a new nuclear power plant was decided in 2002.

The SFP's long continuous participation in the Finnish cabinets came to an end in following the 2015 parliamentary election when it was left out of the Sipilä cabinet.[15] In June 2019, the SFP returned to government with two ministerial posiitons in the Rinne Cabinet, the Minister of Justice and the Minister for Nordic Cooperation and Equality.[16]

Recently the SFP has emphasized the liberal part of its programme, attempting to woo voters outside its traditional Swedish-speaking electorate. In 2010, the party added the word Suomen ("of Finland") to its official Finnish name.

Election results[edit]

Parliament of Finland[edit]

Election Votes % Seats +/- Government
1907 112,267 12.60
24 / 200
Opposition
1908 103,146 12.74
24 / 200
Steady Opposition
1909 104,191 12.31
25 / 200
Increase 1 Opposition
1910 107,121 13.53
26 / 200
Increase 1 Opposition
1911 106,810 13.31
26 / 200
Steady Opposition
1913 94,672 13.07
25 / 200
Decrease 1 Opposition
1916 93,555 11.76
21 / 200
Decrease 4 Opposition
1917 108,190 10.90
21 / 200
Steady Coalition
1919 116,582 12.13
22 / 200
Increase 1 Coalition (1919)
Opposition (1919-1920)
Coalition (1920-1921)
Opposition (1921-1922)
1922 107,414 12.41
25 / 200
Increase 3 Opposition
1924 105,733 12.03
23 / 200
Decrease 2 Coalition (1924-1925)
Opposition (1925-1927)
1927 111,005 12.20
24 / 200
Increase 1 Opposition
1929 108,886 11.45
23 / 200
Decrease 1 Opposition
1930 113,318 10.03
20 / 200
Decrease 3 Coalition
1933 115,433 10.42
21 / 200
Increase 1 Coalition
1936 131,440 11.20
21 / 200
Steady Opposition (1936-1937)
Coalition (1937-1939)
1939 124,720 9.61
18 / 200
Decrease 3 Coalition
1945 134,106 7.90
14 / 200
Decrease 4 Coalition
1948 137,981 7.34
13 / 200
Decrease 1 Opposition (1948-1950)
Coalition (1950-1951)
1951 130,524 7.20
14 / 200
Increase 1 Coalition
1954 135,768 6.76
12 / 200
Decrease 2 Coalition (1954)
Opposition (1954-1956)
Coalition (1956-1958)
1958 126,365 6.50
13 / 200
Increase 1 Coalition (1958-1961)
Opposition (1961-1962)
1962 140,689 6.11
13 / 200
Steady Coalition
1966 134,832 5.69
11 / 200
Decrease 2 Coalition
1970 135,465 5.34
11 / 200
Steady Coalition
1972 130,407 5.06
9 / 200
Decrease 2 Opposition (1972)
Coalition {1972-1975)
1975 128,211 4.66
9 / 200
Steady Coalition
1979 122,418 4.23
9 / 200
Steady Coalition
1983 137,423 4.61
10 / 200
Increase 1 Coalition
1987 152,597 5.30
12 / 200
Increase 2 Coalition
1991 149,476 5.48
11 / 200
Decrease 1 Coalition
1995 142,874 5.14
11 / 200
Steady Coalition
1999 137,330 5.12
11 / 200
Steady Coalition
2003 128,824 4.61
8 / 200
Decrease 3 Coalition
2007 126,520 4.57
9 / 200
Increase 1 Coalition
2011 125,785 4.28
9 / 200
Steady Coalition
2015 144,802 4.88
9 / 200
Steady Opposition
2019 139,428 4.50
9 / 200
Steady Coalition

European Parliament[edit]

Election Votes % Seats +/-
1996 129,425 5.75 (#6)
1 / 16
1999 84,153 6.77 (#6)
1 / 16
Steady
2004 94,421 5.70 (#6)
1 / 14
Steady
2009 101,453 6.09 (#6)
1 / 13
Steady
2014 116,747 6.76 (#7)
1 / 13
Steady
2019 116,033 6.34 (#7)
1 / 14
Steady

Presidential elections[edit]

Election Candidate 1st round 2nd round Result
Votes % Votes %
1994 Elisabeth Rehn 702,211 22.0 (#2) 1,476,294 46.1 (#2) Lost
2000 Elisabeth Rehn 241,877 7.9 (#4) Lost
2006 Henrik Lax 48,703 1.6 (#7) Lost
2012 Eva Biaudet 82,598 2.7 (#7) Lost
2018[17] Nils Torvalds 44,776 1.5 (#8) Lost

Political positions[edit]

The Swedish language is one of the two official languages of Finland. The SFP has as its main raison d'être the protection and strengthening of the position of the Swedish language in Finland.

The Swedish People's Party of Finland has the most eclectic profile of any of the political parties in Finland, its members and supporters including (chiefly):

  • fishermen and farmers from the Swedish-speaking coastal areas.
  • small-town dwellers from the adjacent Swedish-speaking and bi-lingual towns.
  • a significant part of the Swedish-speaking population of Finland
  • left-leaning middle-class people.
  • liberals in general, who currently have no representation of their own in the Finnish parliament, and who as such benefit from the predominantly liberal values of the SFP.

Although the SFP represents a small minority of Finland, Swedish mother tongue per se is not much of a political handicap. Several times Swedish speaking presidential candidates have gathered considerable support, although not necessarily as candidates for the Swedish People's Party of Finland:

SFP supports Finnish NATO membership and envisions that Finland could become a full NATO member by 2025.[18]

List of party leaders[edit]

The current party leader Anna-Maja Henriksson

See also[edit]

1960 municipal elections poster: "Choose Swedish"

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Markus Blomquist ny ordförande för SFP i Åbo". Åbo Underrättelser (in Swedish). 30 November 2018. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  2. ^ http://www.sfp.fi/sv/content/verksamhet SFP website|access date 2016-08-04
  3. ^ Arter, David (1999). Scandinavian Politics Today. Manchester University Press. p. 62. ISBN 978-0-7190-5133-3.
  4. ^ Bondeson, Ulla (2003). Nordic Moral Climates: Value Continuities and Discontinuities in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. Transaction Publishers. p. 20. ISBN 978-0-7658-0203-3.
  5. ^ Hans van den Brandhof (2004). Lucas Prakke; Constantijn Kortmann (eds.). The Republic of Finland. Constitutional Law of 15 EU Member States. Kluwer. p. 183. ISBN 978-90-13-01255-2.
  6. ^ K. Beyme (1996). Transition to Democracy in Eastern Europe. Springer. p. 59. ISBN 978-0-230-37433-1.
  7. ^ Nordsieck, Wolfram (2019). "Finland". Parties and Elections in Europe. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  8. ^ Bergqvist, Christina (1999). Equal Democracies?: Gender and Politics in the Nordic Countries. Nordic Council of Ministers. p. 319. ISBN 978-82-00-12799-4.
  9. ^ Vít Hloušek; Lubomír Kopeček (2010). Origin, Ideology and Transformation of Political Parties: East-Central and Western Europe Compared. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 204. ISBN 978-0-7546-7840-3.
  10. ^ Lane, Jan-Erik; Ersson, Svante (2008). Josep M. Colomer (ed.). The Nordic Countries: Compromise and Corporatism in the Welfare State. Political Institutions in Europe. Routledge. p. 260. ISBN 978-1-134-07354-2.
  11. ^ RKP, SFP (2019). "SFP:s Riksdag ValsProgram 2019". SFP. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  12. ^ Biografiskt lexikon för Finland: Federley, Alex (in Swedish). Retreieved 10 November 2016.
  13. ^ "Anna-Maja Henriksson valittiin Rkp:n puheenjohtajaksi – "Me teimme sen. Me rikoimme lasikaton!"". Helsingin sanomat. 12 June 2016. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  14. ^ Finland in Figures. "Tilastokeskus - Population". Stat.fi. Retrieved 23 December 2013.
  15. ^ "Perusporvarihallitus on Juha Sipilän valinta". 8 May 2015. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  16. ^ http://valtioneuvosto.fi/en/article/-/asset_publisher/10616/rinteen-hallitus-nimitettiin
  17. ^ "Presidential election 2018 / Results / Whole country". Ministry of Justice. 2018-04-04. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
  18. ^ "RKP on nyt virallisesti Nato-puolue". Yle. 12 June 2016. Retrieved 12 June 2016.

External links[edit]