Concerns have arisen in Sweden after the anti-European party Perussuomalaiset (True Finns) won 39 of the 200 seats in the parliamentary elections in neighbouring Finland. The position of the Swedish minority in Finland is particularly feared.
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt writes on his weblog that he is “concerned”. ”Not in the least about the tone against Swedish as a minority language”.
The leader of Sweden’s largest political party, Håkan Juholt (Socialists), is “worrying that a party without social responsibility achieved such a large election gain.” The True Finns have become the third political party in the Finnish parliament.
Finnish national broadcaster Yle reported Monday that at least half of the new parliament is in favour of abolishing Swedish as a compulsory language in Finnish education.
Also, the only Swedish-speaking brigade of the Finnish armed forces is slated to be cut. About 291,500 of the 5.3 million Finns have Swedish as their mother tongue (5.5 percent). At the beginning of 1900 this was still 15 percent.
Sweden lost Finland to Russia in 1809 in a war. Finland became independent in 1917. | © 2011 Marcel Burger for ANP News Agency (original published in Dutch on 18 April 2011)