A Brief Summary of Ålands Framtid
A brief summary of what has led to the foundation of Ålands Framtid - a political party in the Åland Islands - and of the most important questions on the agenda of this party. In an English translation the name of the party is The Future of Åland.
The goal of Ålands Framtid
Ålands Framtid wants Åland to become a sovereign, neutral and demilitarized microstate in the ever growing and more and more respected European family of microstates.
From time immemorial the mother tongue and the culture of the people in the Åland Islands have been Swedish. Among its first commercial and cultural relations were those with Sweden. In the early Middle Ages Åland was part of Sweden where it constituted a county (län) of its own. Later it came to be part of the county of Åbo in Finland. In the peace treaty of 1809 Sweden had to yield Finland and Åland to Russia.
In 1917 Finland proclaimed itself independent. Then the population of Åland arranged a referendum in Åland as to where Åland wanted to belong. The result of this referendum was that an overwhelming majority of the Ålanders wanted to belong to Sweden, the country that they regarded as their mother country. Neither Finland nor Sweden wanted to give up Åland and thus the question was submitted to the League of Nations where it was decided that Åland come under Finnish sovereignty. But at the same time it was stipulated by the League of Nations and 10 signatory powers, to which Finland, Sweden, England and Russia belonged, that Åland was to become an autonomous province with guarantees for the people of Åland to develop their autonomy as far as possible without becoming a sovereign state. Inbuilt in the autonomy were also paragraphs that protect the Swedish language, culture, customs and way of living.
During these more than 80 years of autonomy it has become clear that Finland neither can nor indeed is willing to keep its promises to Åland. According to law Finland has two official, equal languages - Swedish and Finnish. In practice this is not true today. Finnish has become more and more dominant, a both natural and inevitable development since the vast majority of Finland has Finnish as their mother tongue.
This has led to the fact that it in practice is impossible for the authorities of Åland to communicate with Finnish authorities in Swedish, a right that they once were guaranteed. It has also become more and more difficult generally to cope in Swedish, be it regarding commerce, higher education, computer programs and more common day things as, for instance, informative labels on goods for sale, directions for use or special offers. These facts plus the undeniable fact that the Swedish language in mainland Finland looses more and more of its ground and is on its way to become something that might be called a family language, led to the forming of Ålands Framtid, a political party the aim of which is an independent microstate. We do not see any other possibility for Åland to protect its Swedish heritage - its mother tongue, its culture, its economy and its right and desire to have a functioning right of self-determination.
We are fully aware of the fact that our goal - a sovereign microstate - will not be reached in one day - nor was Rome built in one day. But on our certainly most difficult way there we are working on developing our autonomy to the degree we once were promised. Once this goal has been reached there is only one small, formal threshold to step over before full sovereignty is reached.
The most urgent questions on our agenda are the following:
- Our Swedish mother tongue. We want to use our mother tongue, Swedish, at all levels in our communications with the authorities of Finland.
- An independent industry. We want to be able to do business with Sweden without any restrictions imposed by Finland. Then the language would pose no difficulties.
- An independent foreign policy. Negotiations on international treaties should be part of the competence of Åland.
- An independent, responsible economical policy. The first and foremost goal here is of course to take over the taxation. Without that we cannot even talk about a functioning autonomously.
- An independent cultural development. We want to protect Åland's cultural heritage. A people’s cultural heritage is crucial in creating roots and confidence.
- A member of our own to represent Åland in the parliament of the European Union. This is crucial since we have yielded significant parts of our legislation to the EU and Finland is not willing to give us a representative in the parliament. This is not in accordance with the promises we were given when we, against our will, were forced to accept our autonomy.
Åland - a World of Islands
Åland (in Finnish: Ahvenanmaa) lies in the middle of the Baltic Sea, between Sweden and Finland. It is an autonomous, demilitarised, monolingually Swedish-speaking region of Finland. It consists of more than 6500 islands and skerries. 6400 of these are larger than 3000 square metres. The Åland archipelago consists of nearly 300 habitable islands but in fact only 80 are inhabited.
There is one Main Island (Fasta Åland) where the capital, Mariehamn, is situated. It measures approximately 47 kilometres from north to south and 42 kilometres from east to west. The population of Åland amounts to about 28500 persons. Whereas in Mariehamn amounts to 11346 persons (2012).
Åland in numbers
Åland is divided into 16 municipalities. Those are: Brändö, Eckerö, Finström, Föglö, Geta, Hammarland, Jomala, Kumlinge, Kökar, Lemland, Lumparland Mariehamn, Saltvik, Sottunga, Sund and Vårdö.
The biggest municipality is Mariehamn – 11346 persons. The smallest is Sottunga, where lives only 101 persons (2012).
66 % of all Åland inhabitants were born in Åland, 19.4% in Finland, little less than 8% in Sweden. 6.8% came to Åland from ”other countires” (2012). There are 31817 registered vehicles – including 20886 cars and 3741 tractors (2012).
Gross domestic product of Åland (2010) is mainly coming from: Shipping 21.7%, government services 21.2%, financial services & real estate 16.9%, trade & hotels 9.3%.
Åland Pariament is called ”Lagtinget”. It has 30 members, who are elected every four years under a system of proportional representation. After the elections in 2011, ”Lagtinget” consists of six parties:
Åland Centre Party (7 members).
Åland Liberals (6).
Åland Social Democratic Party (6).
The Moderates (4).
Future of Åland (3).
Åland has one representative in the Finnish Parliament.
Åland has its own flag since 1954, its own postage stamps since 1984, runs its own police force, and is a member of the Nordic Council.