Swedish People's Party (Finland)

Swedish People's Party (Finland)

party_name = Swedish Peoples' Party
party_wikicolourid = Yellow
name in Finnish = Ruotsalainen kansanpuolue
name in Swedish = Svenska folkpartiet
leader = Stefan Wallin
foundation = 1906
ideology = Social liberalism
position = Centre-right
european = European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party
international = Liberal International
colours = Red and Yellow
headquarters = Simonsgatan 8 A
00100 Helsingfors (Helsinki), Finland
president = Henrik Lax
website = [http://www.sfp.fi/eng/ http://www.sfp.fi]
The Swedish Peoples' Party ( _sv. Svenska folkpartiet (SFP); _fi. Ruotsalainen kansanpuolue (RKP)) is a Swedish-speaking minority and mainly liberal party in Finland. The party is a member of Liberal International and the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party.

History and Electorate

The Swedish Party, a parliamentary elite party based on Diet of Finland members, is the historical predecessors of the Swedish People's Party. Also, much of the membership of the Diet's Liberal Party joined the Swedish Party. The Swedish People's Party was founded in the 1906 party congress of the Swedish Party, making it one of the oldest parties in Finland. The first leader of SFP was Axel Lille. The current leader of the party is Stefan Wallin. In the Parliament of Finland the representative for Åland is usually included in SFP's parliamentary group, regardless of his/her party affiliation. (The political parties in Åland have no counterparts in Mainland Finland, but SFP's interests are very similar to those of Åland.)

The party receives its main electoral support from the Swedish speaking minority, which makes up about 5.5% [http://www.stat.fi/tup/suoluk/suoluk_vaesto_en.html] of Finland's population. 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 2003/2007 parliamentary elections 4.5% (8 MPs in 2003, 9 MPs in 2007).

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 government (1966-68), which included only socialists (SDP, the split SDP faction TPSL and SKDL) and the Centre Party. Short periods of rule by single-party minority governments, Miettunen government (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 accepts nearly all policies as long as its own vital interest, the status of the Swedish language is maintained. Notice also that when Vanhanen's first government made Swedish a voluntary subject in the secondary school matriculation exam, SFP still remained in the government. (In contrast, the Greens left the previous government after its decision to build a new nuclear power plant in 2002.)

Political Positions

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 Swedish of Finland.

The Swedish People's Party 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.
* green-minded and left-leaning middle-class intellectuals and cultural elite.
* liberals and libertarians in general, who currently have no representation of their own in the Finnish parliament, and who as such benefit from the uniquely bourgeoisie values of the SFP.

Although 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:
* In 1956 the Finland-Swedish Social Democrat Fagerholm got one elector's vote less than needed to be elected, and the Agrarian Urho Kekkonen was elected.
* In 1994 the SFP-candidate Elisabeth Rehn was defeated by the Social Democrat candidate Martti Ahtisaari, also with a narrow margin (53.9% to 46.1%).

List of party leaders

* Axel Lille (1906–1917)
* Eric von Rettig (1917–1934)
* Ernst von Born (1934–1945)
* Ralf Törngren (1945–1955)
* Ernst von Born (1955-1956)
* Lars Erik Taxell (1956–1966)
* Jan-Magnus Jansson (1966–1973)
* Kristian Gestrin (1973–1974)
* Carl Olof Tallgren (1974–1977)
* Pär Stenbäck (1977–1985)
* Christoffer Taxell (1985–1990)
* Ole Norrback (1990–1998)
* Jan-Erik Enestam (1998–2006)
* Stefan Wallin (2006–)

ee also

*Contributions to liberal theory
*Liberalism worldwide
*List of liberal parties
*Liberal democracy
*Liberalism and centrism in Finland
*Finland's language strife
*Swedish Assembly of Finland
*Rolf Witting
*Axel Olof Freudenthal

External links

* [http://www.sfp.fi/eng/ Swedish People's Party] official site

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