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Henriksson set to carry on as Swedish People's Party chair, pledges election result over 5%

The middle-of-the-road Swedish People's Party has by far the lowest support among the five government parties.

Anna-Maja Henriksson hallituksen tiedotustilaisuudessa Helsingissä.
Anna-Maja Henriksson (SPP) is one of Finland's longest-serving ministers of justice. Image: Tiina Jutila / Yle

Justice Minister Anna-Maja Henriksson will seek another term as leader of the Swedish People's Party (SPP).

Henriksson said on Saturday that she would seek re-election at a party congress next month. She has led the centrist party since 2016. She faces no leadership challenge.

The SPP elects its chair and leadership for a year at a time. The party congress is to be held virtually on 29-30 May.

"The SPP will continue to be the party for everyone who cares about a bilingual Finland, liberal Western democracy, human rights and Nordic co-operation. We are the liberal, non-socialist alternative with a great social conscience," she said in a statement.

Dwindling minority

Henriksson said she wants to see the SPP grow as a party, pledging that it will earn more than five percent of seats in June's local elections.

The latest Yle poll showed the SPP support unchanged at 4.3 percent, by far the lowest among the five government parties.

The party primarily defends the interests of Finland's Swedish-speaking minority, which has been dwindling since the country gained independence. It fell below 10 percent in the 1930s and below six percent in the 1980s.

As of the end of 2019, native Swedish speakers made up 5.2 percent of the population – a share that was exceeded by speakers of foreign languages in the mid-2010s.

We're covering the issues leading up to the elections on 13 June in our All Points North podcast. You can hear the latest episode n this embedded player, via Yle Areena, on Spotify or via your favoured podcast provider.

Story continues after audio

Opposition critical of election moves

Last month Henriksson sailed through a confidence vote in Parliament, brought by opposition parties critical of her handling of the postponement of municipal elections from April to June.

Henriksson, 57, is one of Finland's longest-serving justice ministers, having held the post in three cabinets, from 2011 to 2015 and again since mid-2019.

Her predecessors in the post include three presidents: Urho Kekkonen, Tarja Halonen and the incumbent, Sauli Niinistö.

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