You are currently browsing the monthly archive for June 2009.
This is the conclusion of sociologist Thomas Rosenberg from Lovisa on why some of the Finnish-speaking population are irritated by their Swedish-speaking compatriots.
His remarks come in the wake of the story of an 18-year old Swedish-speaking woman being assaulted at a restaurant in Åbo/Turku by a Finnish-speaking man because she was speaking Swedish.
According to Rosenberg, such a case is nothing new. “I don’t even know how many times I myself have been forced to flee from a pub because I was speaking Swedish – but it’s many”, he told the new Swedish-speaking youth website Peppar.fi. “During the 1970s and 1980s, the aggression against us Swedish-speaking Finns was strong, perhaps stronger even than today.”
Few researchers are prepared to – or dare to – comment on the subject of aggression towards Swedish-speakers by Finnish-speakers, reports Peppar.fi.
Thomas Rosenberg suggests that the reasons behind the increase in anti-Swedish feelings amongst Finnish-speakers may be down to the fact that there has been an increase in Finnish chauvinism in recent times at the same time as populism has grown. According to Rosenberg, this is partly because Europe has become more international and all the more immigrants have arrived. This has caused a kickback reaction. Rosenberg says that we know from the past that negative attitudes towards other cultures have always been strong in Finland, “we are a young nation. What we see now is a strong will to defend Finnishness. It is somewhat comic that this aggression is often directed towards us Swedish-speakers instead of towards immigrants”.
On being asked what Swedish-speakers can do to counteract this aggression, Rosenberg replied that “it is hard because the Finnish-speakers have a picture of us as being happy, positive and pleasant people. This image that they have created of us creates envy. We are not really freed from the stamp of being “bättre talande folket”* just because we are so damned happy and integrated and social competent and cocktail-knowledgeable and succeed so well. We appear to seem as governors of the poor Finnish-speakers in their image. That can be irritating for them. The stamp of us being the elite remains.”
Rosenberg suggests that Swedish-speakers lower their demands in order to improve relations. He suggests that a regional dimension is bought to the fore and suggests that we should abandon the concept of “forcing” people to learn Swedish throughout the entire country.
“I belong to the those that spoke in favour of abandoning compulsory Swedish language lessons in Finnish-speaking schools. We paid a high price for ‘compulsory Swedish’ because it was so unpopular. In the coastal areas [where the majority of Swedish-speakers live], people absolutely ought to study the minority’s language, but I think it is politically unwise to do this in the whole country. We should think in regional terms and restrict Swedish in Finland to the coastal areas – but there we ought to get stronger rights”
On being asked whether he was speaking about a ‘reserve’, Rosenberg answered yes. “Svenskfinland [Swedish-speaking Finland] is already a reserve to a great extent. We ought to reach a historic compromise and wind down the demand for a bilingual Finland and give up ‘compulsory Swedish’, just so long as we do not need to beg an apology for speaking Swedish in Svenskfinland.
Rosenberg hopes that reaching such a compromise would be possible. “Swedish is currently continually being undermined as an official language. There is just an long series of loses, and it is certainly the fault of politicians. We have too long lived with the belief that we have a good language law – but it reflects an early twentieth century reality that we no longer live in. I do believe that in the long run, the historically dependant prejudice based on us being ‘occupants’ will disappear. But we’re not there yet”.
* Svenskatalande bättre folk – “Swedish-speaking better people”. A common stereotype held of the Swedish-speaking Finns, usually with a derogatory meaning. Based on an untrue image that the Swedish-speakers are all rich and perhaps snobbishly assume that they are a ‘better people’ than the Finnish-speakers.
This article is based heavily on Peppar.fi’s article, which can be found here [SV]. Thus, any errors and the woodenness of the translation are entirely my fault!
An 18-year-old woman was assaulted on Wednesday evening by a pair of Finnish-speakers because she was speaking Swedish. The incident happened in at restaurant Amarillo in Åbo-Turku.
According to news reports, the Finnish-speaking pair of a man and a woman first asked the 18-year-old woman to leave the restaurant. When she refused to leave, they pulled her by her hair.
The man escaped, however the woman was taken in for questioning by the police. The 18-year-old victim has repoted the incident as a crime to the police.
According to the police, such incidents are very unusual and this is an individual occurance. However, the chairman of the student union at Åbo Akademi, Finland’s largest Swedish-speaking university which is based in the city, said that he is aware of violence occuring against people just because they speak Swedish. He told the internet newspaper Peppar.fi, “If one is in town or in a pub in the evening, one often makes sure to speak Swedish quietly. It’s simply a matter of one’s own self preservation instict”.
Wishing you a happy midsummer.
For those looking to read about this most Finnish of celebrations, please visit this entry from last year.
Enjoy the holiday!
The Swedish People’s Party has, against the predictions of many opinion polls, won a seat in the European Parliament. Carl Haglund, 30 years old and the current State Secretary for Culture Minister Stefan Wallin (SFP), topped the SFP vote and will take the party’s seat.
SFP won 6,1% of the national vote with over 101 000 votes, an increase of around 6 800 votes compared to 2004, an election in which the turnout was higher. SFP took the 13th seat of Finland’s 13 seats and came close to taking the 12th, in what must be considered a very good result for the party. The standing between SFP’s candidates was also close. The party ran 20 candidates with no designated main candidate. For the first time, Åland’s main candidate stood on the SFP list – a factor that was very much of help to SFP. SFP won almost 90% of the almost 10 000 votes cast on Åland.
The other established parties performed badly. The three biggest parties, Kokoomus (National Coaltion), Centre and the Social Democrats all lost one seat. The Left Alliance has fallen out of the EU parliament, losing its one seat. The Greens did well, winning an extra seat to take them to two MEPs.
The populist right-wing True Finns party, in a voting league with the Christian Democrats, saw party leader Timo Soini win the most personal votes of any candidate, 130 432.
Election results in full can be found on Yle’s website: http://yle.fi/val/resultat/2009/eu/index.html.
Pictured, SFP chairman Stefan Wallin and newly elected MEP Carl ‘Calle’ Haglund.
Finnish time (GMT plus 3)
20.00 Finland’s polling stations close. Results of votes from advanced voting announced. SFP predicted to lose its European parliament seat. Kokoomus, Centre party and SDP all to win 3 seats. That’s minus 1 for Kok and Centre.
20.04 Important to note that Swedish-speaking Finns and SFP voters in particular often leave voting until the actual election day.
20.28 11 of the 20 most active turnouts in Finland in Åland municipalities. Britt Lundberg effect?
20.30 Lundberg from Åland currently in 4th place amongst top SFP candidates.
20.31 40,9% of votes counted. Ca 54 000 votes for True Finns leader Timo Soini. Currently the most personal votes.
20.33 Leading SFP candidate is in 16th place currently (of 13 Finnish EU parliament seats), it is Björn Månsson.
20.39 SFP just now looks like it could hold a seat, Björn Månsson has moved up to 13 place. 44,2% votes counted.
20.40 Finlands Svenska Televisions hockey commentator Kaj Kunnas is charged with delivering the vote results in FST’s election results programme. Beginning to think that he should perhaps stick to sport!
20.47 Outgoing SFP-European parliament member Henrik Lax being interviewed on FST. Repeats that it is vital that Finland is seen and heard in both languages in Brussels. A good example in a Europe full of language minorities, but where few have the same level of rights as in Finland. Vital that Swedish-speakers in Finland can turn to someone in Brussels without the risk of being misunderstood.
20.48 Possibility that Left Alliance fall out of the European parliament. SFP overtake them at 46% of vote counted.
20.51 Soini (True Finns), Jääteenmäki (Centre, former PM), Mitro (SDP, orthodox priest), Itälä (Kokoomus, national coaltion party, former party leader) top 4 candidates in personal votes currently. Månsson and Haglund in 27 and 28 place.
20.55 Risto Penttilä of True Finns interviewed on FST in one of this year’s most pointless interviews, as he can barely string a sentence together in Swedish. Calls SFP a racist party.
20.57 SFP currently up 1,1% on the result from the last EU election in 2004 with 6,8%. 55% of votes counted.
21.02 Carl Haglund has passed Björn Månsson. 111 votes between them. With things just now, Haglund would be SFP’s representative in the EU parliament.
21.03 Social Democrats and especially Left Alliance both significantly back. Interesting in times of economic problems. All established parties backwards with exception with SFP. True Finns taken many votes off established parties. Christian Democrats also forward.
21.06 Stefan Wallin, chairman of SFP, being interviewed on FST5. Still cautious. Will see final results. Björn Månsson also interviewed. Stresses an SFP mandate is more important than who take its.
21.08 Many votes in Korsholm, Borgå, Sibbo, Raseborg not yet counted. Could possibly favour Månsson. Stefan Wallin would be surprised if SFP stayed on 6,8%. Expects figure to shrink during the night as more Finnish-speaking areas report their results. Wallin notes that if SFP wins a mandate, it will be a very very good result with regard to fact Finland has one less MEP seat and that last time SFP was in a voting alliance (this time it is alone).
21.09 Nils Torvalds and Bo Linde also close behind Haglund and Månsson in personal votes on SFP’s list.
21.10 Yle says SFP likely to take 12th mandate, which would be an excellent result.
21.15 Interview with Christian Democrats on FST. Chairman of Swedish-speaking district of Christian Democrats admits it was very difficult to explain to Swedish-speakers the Christian Democrat’s election alliance with the True Finns. The party chairman Päivi Räisänen explains it is just a technical alliance when asked what the two parties have in common.
21.18 Nils Torvalds has overtaken Björn Månsson in the SFP’s candidates popularity.
21.19 Swedish-speaking and bilingual municipalities amongst the municipalities with the highest turnouts. Almost all over 50%. National figure only barely 40%.
21.22 73% of total votes counted in Finland – current status: Kokoomus 3 seats, Centre 3 seats, SDP 3 seats, Greens 1 seat, True Finns 1 seat, SFP Swedish People’s Party 1 seat, Left Alliance 1 seat, Christian Democrats 1 seat.
21.28 Thirteenth and last seat would currently go to Annika Lapintie of Left Alliance who is from a bilingual home. Possibility of two Swedish-speaking Finns in European Parliament.
21.36 SDP could lose one seat and be down to 2 MEPs. 80,2% of total votes counted. All three major parties losing one seat just now.
21.39 Yle says seats 12-16 are still uncertain as so many votes are uncounted in especially Helsinki. SFP’s position is still not secure.
22.00 FST: Alexander Stubb (kok), foreign minister and candidate in the last election, says it is possible that some of his previous Swedish-speaking voters turned to SFP in this election. SFP chairman Stefan Wallin, alongside him, says that one must also note that Bjarne Kallis (Christian Democrat, former party leader) is also not standing this time. Another possible source of Swedish votes.
22.05 Voting in neighbouring Sweden has ended (at 21.00 Stockholm time). Sveriges Television predicts that the Pirate Party will win 7,4% of votes in Sweden’s election to the EU parliament.
22.06 Yle reports that Left Alliance will fall out of EU parliament and that instead the Greens will take a second seat in EU parliament. Greens strong in Helsinki, where there are still significant votes to be counted.
22.08 Timo Soini received 24 votes on Åland! Åland Centre party candidate Britt Lundberg, representing all of the non-socialist Åland parties and standing on SFP’s list, received 7690 of the 9960 votes on Åland. (Hufvudstadsbladet)
22.10 So close between candidates at back of list that it is possible a second count will be required to get the actual result.
22.17 Likely that SFP will fall to 13th place and take the last Finnish seat in the EU election. Greens will overtake the 12th. SFP’s position still not secure according to Yle, if SDP or Left Alliance has many votes amongst those uncounted in Helsinki.
22.22 SFP near to receiving 100 000 votes. An increase of nearly 5000 votes on the previous election despite a lower voting turnout. 97,7% votes counted in the whole country.
22.25 SDP chair Jutta Urpilainen says she is disappointed with the election result. SDP had a goal of keeping 3 seats, and are losing ones.
22.27 Carl Haglund being interviewed on telephone on FST. Cautious, will wait for full result before he comments result.
22.29 FST showing loud, party scenes at SFP Swedish People’s Party’s election results party. Crowd shouting ‘Calle, Calle’ Calle’. Carl ‘Calle’ Haglund has not yet arrived.
22.31 99,1% votes counted. On FST, Stefan Wallin says it feels good. Party secretary Ulla Achrén (SFP) thanks voters.
22.33 99,5% Haglund as good as certain to take 13th of Finland’s 13 MEP seats.
22.37 99,7% of votes counted. What seems to be the final result. Elected members to the European parliament (from Yle):
|1.||Ville Itälä||Saml. (Kok, National Coalition)||65 830||384 826,000||Åbo||vald – (elected)||65 439|
|2.||Anneli Jäätteenmäki||C (Centre)||79 931||316 337,000||Helsingfors||vald||149 646|
|3.||Mitro Repo||SDP (Social Democrats)||71 419||290 838,000||Helsingfors||vald||-|
|4.||Timo Soini||Sannf. (True Finns)||130 205||231 661,000||Esbo||vald||-|
|5.||Heidi Hautala||Gröna (Greens)||58 652||205 448,000||Helsingfors||vald||-|
|6.||Sirpa Pietikäinen||Saml.||51 372||192 413,000||Tavastehus||vald||30 042|
|7.||Hannu Takkula||C||39 288||158 168,500||Rovaniemi||vald||32 739|
|8.||Liisa Jaakonsaari||SDP||45 258||145 419,000||Uleåborg||vald||-|
|9.||Eija-Riitta Korhola||Saml.||51 086||128 275,333||Helsingfors||vald||35 285|
|10.||Sari Essayah||KD (Christian Democrats)||53 616||115 830,500||Pemar||vald||-|
|11.||Riikka Manner||C||37 294||105 445,667||Varkaus||vald||-|
|12.||Satu Hassi||Gröna||56 769||102 724,000||Tammerfors||vald||74 714|
|13.||Carl Haglund||SFP (Swedish People’s Party)||16 780||101 169,000||Esbo||vald||-|
Overall, so far, Swedish People’s Party took 6,1% of the vote, receiving 101 203 votes. 40,3% of the electorate turned out.
22.43 That’s the end of this live blog from the results of the Finnish election to the EU parliament, in which a Swedish-speaking mandate was preserved. Carl Haglund will respresent the Swedish People’s Party SFP in Brussels during the next EU parliamentary period.
Image: YLE FST5 Election results programme. SFP candidate Björn Månsson being interviewed.
Elections to the EU parliament are underway with polling stations in Finland open until 20.00 this evening. The official result, however, will not be known until 22.00, as according to regulations, member states must wait until all polling accross the EU is over.
It remains to be seen as to whether SFP, the Swedish People’s Party, will manage to hang on to a seat in Brussels. Finland’s total number of MEPs has fallen one from 14 to 13, making it a tighter race. Opinion polls in the run up to election day gave mixed readings. However, opinion polls do generally underestimate SFP support as they most often conducted only in Finnish. Additionally, Swedish-speaking Finns tend to be more active voters in the real election, something that is not taken into account in opinion polls. In SFP’s favour in this EU election is that for the first time the most popular candidate on Åland (Britt Lundberg, a member of Åland’s Centre Party) is standing on SFP’s list. The votes of the Ålanders could be the critical factor in returning an SFP MEP. Another factor in SFP’s favour is that foreign minister Alexander Stubb (Kokoomus, National Coaltion party) was a candidate in the last EU election – it’s likely he won considerable numbers of Swedish-speakers’ votes, especially in the Helsinki area. They will now be looking for someone else to vote for. Should SFP succeed, it seems likely to be Carl Haglund (state secretary for Stefan Wallin) or Björn Månsson (until recently leader writer at Hufvudstadsbladet) who will take the seat. One thing is for sure, the only way to ensure one’s vote goes towards electing a Swedish-speaker is to vote for SFP.
Another interesting result will be to see how well Timo Soini and his True Finns do. It is not unthinkable that Soini could win the most personal votes in the country. This must be of considerable embarrasment to supporters of the Christian Democrats who are in a voting alliance for this election with the True Finns. Christian Democrat voters may well have stayed home in the realisation that a vote for a Christian Democrat will help the borderline racist True Finns. A somewhat unholy alliance.
Pictured: SFP’s EU parliament candidates