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Swedish People's Party

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The Swedish People's Party (Svenska folkpartiet (SFP) in Swedish, Ruotsalainen kansanpuolue (RKP) in Finnish) is a political party in Finland. It was founded by Axel Lille in 1906, making it one of oldest parties in Finland. The leader of the party is Jan-Erik Enestam. In the Parliament of Finland the representative for Åland is usually included in SFP's party-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 5.6%[1] (http://www.stat.fi/tk/tp/tasku/taskue_vaesto) of Finland's population. 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. SFP has not been in opposition since 1976 -- a remarkable achievement for a such a small party.

The Swedish language enjoys a privileged position as one of the two official languages of Finland (see pakkoruotsi). The SFP has as its main raison d'être the protection and strengthening of the position of Swedish in Finland. (See: Finland-Swedish for more on the position of Swedish in Finland.)

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

  • fishermen and farmers from the Swedish-speaking coastal areas,
  • small-town dwellers from the adjacent Swedish-speaking towns,
  • green-minded and left-leaning middle-class intellectuals and cultural elite, and
  • rightist-inclined economic liberals from Helsinki.

The party's relation to Eurosceptics and issues of the European Union is complicated, partly due to the SFP's historical ties to Finland's wealthiest families.

Sometimes the SFP manages to draw support from the Finnish-speaking population. In the presidential elections of 1994, the SFP's Elisabeth Rehn lost to Martti Ahtisaari by a narrow margin (53.9% to 46.1%).

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