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All Points North #42: Platforms, promises and platitudes - Swedish People's Party

Journalist Sam Kingsley and political pundit Sini Korpinen join the podcast to talk about the Swedish People's Party's prospects in the parliamentary elections.

Audio: Yle News

The Swedish People's Party (SPP) has been part of different coalition governments for close to 40 years, but since 2015 it has been relegated to the opposition. A prominent supporter of Swedish-language rights and interests in Finland, the SPP has traditionally received the support of Finland's Swedish-speaking minority, which makes up about five percent of the population.

This week's APN asked journalist Sam Kingsley and political commentator Sini Korpinen about the prospects for the SPP now that the Swedish-speaking voter base is shrinking.

Kingsley and Korpinen said that the party's unclear platform and apparent unwillingness to take strong stands on several recent controversial issues is proof that it is looking to keep its options open, in terms of potential future coalition cooperation.

Yle's latest poll put SPP support at around four percent. Party chair Anna-Maja Henriksson has said she hopes the party will gain 11 seats in the April elections, two more seats than the party holds now.

Turku University researcher Matti Välimäki also contributed to the conversation, noting that SPP has profiled itself as a pro-immigration party. He said in addition to SPP's support for European integration, that effectively means joining a coalition with the anti-immigrant Finns Party would be impossible.

Cannabis, conscription and a mosque attack top the news

Every Friday in our podcast, we take a look at the most popular stories of the past week. This week, Yle News readers were drawn to a report about commercial gardeners in Finland hoping to make medicinal cannabis the country's next big export hit. Their announcement came on the heels of a recent decision made by the EU last month to distinguish medicinal cannabis from other uses of the plant. Currently, growing cannabis under any circumstances is illegal in Finland.

The next-most popular story was a report about Parliament overturning a law that previously allowed male Jehovah's Witness members to skip military or civilian service without facing penalties. The exemption had been in effect since 1987 and has long been controversial. Last year, the Helsinki Court of Appeal ruled that the Finnish practice of allowing male Jehovah's Witnesses to avoid conscription was discriminatory.

And finally, our readers were drawn to a story about a smoke bomb being thrown through the window of an Islamic prayer room in the city of Oulu. Imam Abdul Mannan said that the attack was the ninth time that the facility had been vandalised within the past year. Oulu is currently home to an estimated 3,000 Muslims. The city has recently been dealing with a number of suspected child sex abuse cases allegedly carried out by individuals from the Middle East.

If you have any questions, or would like to share something on your mind with All Points North, just contact us via WhatsApp on +358 44 421 0909, on our Facebook or Twitter account, or at yle.news@yle.fi.

The All Points North podcast is a weekly look at what's going on in Finland. Subscribe via iTunes (and leave a review!), listen on Spotify and Yle Areena or find it on your favourite podcatching app or via our RSS feed.

This week's podcast episode was presented by Zena Iovino and Pamela Kaskinen, with additional reporting by Denise Wall. Our producer was Anna Ercanbrack, and the sound engineer was Anttoni Wikström.

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