Nearly 4 out of 10 Swedish-speaking Finns believe that an organised resistance exists towards Swedish-speaking Finns and Swedish-speaking culture in Finland.
This is revealed in a opinion survey that the Swedish department of Finland’s public service broadcaster Yle ordered from the Institute for Finland-Swedish Societal Research (IFS) at the university Åbo akademi.
38% of Swedish-speaking Finns believe there is an organised opposition to all things Finland-Swedish, 35% don not share this view and 27% chose not to answer this question.
According to Yle, IFS researcher Kjell Herberts thinks the trend is clear – Swedish-speaking Finns feel concerned and anxious and see that understanding for the Swedish-speaking element in Finland can no longer be taken for granted. Herberts believes that, for example, the handling of the restructuring of the municipalities and basic services can have contributed to this viewpoint. In the view of Herberts, things felt much more secure in the past. Now Swedish-speaking Finns often see that it’s just talk, not action, when decision makers promise to safe-guard Swedish-language services.
Low marks for almost all decision makers
As part of the survey, respondents were asked to rate various institutions and the parliamentary political parties, using a school-style grade (from 4-10), for how good they are in handling Swedish-speaking issues. Few got good grades.
Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen’s (centre) coalition government received a low 5,9.
The Swedish Peoples’ Party (SFP) received the best grade, 8. This is quite a surprise as SFP has been criticised in recent times for not managing to succeed in defending Swedish-speaking interests well enough – it has sat in coalition governments that have removed Swedish as a compulsory element of the school graduation exam for Finnish-speaking students and that have reformed institutions in ways seen as marginalising the Swedish-speaking influence.
The other political parties received even worse grades. The Social Democrats (SDP) received 6,3. The Christian democrats got 6 and the Green party 5,9. The Left Alliance received 5,6. The two biggest parties in the current parliament, National Coalition (Kokoomus) and Centre received 5,5 and 5,4 respectively. The lowest grade was given to the True Finns party, who received 4,4.
85% think Swedish should be part of the school graduation exam
If it were up to Swedish-speaking Finns, Swedish would again be introduced as a compulsory element of the school graduation exam for Finnish-speaking students.
53% of respondents would make the other domestic language (i.e. Swedish for Finnish-speakers and Finnish for Swedish-speakers) obligatory in the test. 32% support making it compulsory but don’t believe it’s a realistic proposition. 15% thought it should not be compulsory.