The Swedish People's Party (Svenska folkpartiet (SFP) in Swedish or Ruotsalainen kansanpuolue (RKP) in Finnish) is a Swedish minority and mainly liberal party in Finland. The party is a member of Liberal International and the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party.
History, Leaders and Electorate
The Swedish People's Party 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% of Finland's and Åland'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 cabinets. 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. The SFP has as its main raison d'être the protection and strengthening of the position of Swedish in 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 towns,
- green-minded and left-leaning middle-class intellectuals and cultural elite, and
- rightist-inclined economic liberals from Helsinki.
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: