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NCP's Conflicting Stands on Swedish in Finland

The conservative National Coalition Party on Sunday took conflicting positions on the position of the nation's second official language, Swedish.

Kokoomuksen puheenjohtaja Jyrki Katainen puhuu puoluekokouksessa. Taustalla esitellään puolueen arvoja.
Image: Yle

The party congress passed a resolution according to which mandatory Swedish studies in schools should be replaced by a voluntary choice of a second language. In practice, this is unlikely to change the party's position because it was in conflict with other resolutions approved by the same gathering.

Delegates to the NCP congress had already voted to reject a resolution that would make Swedish an optional subject in the national curriculum and one calling for the elimination of the constitutional position of Swedish as an official national language. Education Minister Henna Virkkunen admitted that the resolutions were mutually exclusive and left the party's stand open to interpretation.

Chairman Jyrki Katainen interpreted the situation as a desire to expand elective studies of languages, but said the elimination of Swedish as a required subject is not being sought.

According to the resolution that was passed, mandatory studies are not the best motivator. Motivation could be increased if, for example, pupils in eastern parts of the country could choose to study Russian instead of Swedish, if they so wish.

Gender-neutral marriage law

The NCP congress also gave its backing to a resolution for the party to start promoting gender-neutral legislation on marriage. According to the resolution, present law does not fulfil the principles of equality, as same-sex registered couples do not enjoy all the rights and duties as defined by marriage.

The party council noted that the state should not have a need to be involved in what gender or orientation the partners in a marriage represent. It added, however, that the party has no desire interfere with the internal affairs of churches and religious communities as regards religious ceremonies.

Two years ago, the NCP party council proposed backing a gender-neutral marriage law, but at that time, delegates rejected the proposal.

"No" to a monarchy

Not all of the resolutions that were brought to a vote at the NCP congress were meant to be taken without a grain of salt. Delegates Sunday voted on a resolution presented to the congress calling for Finland to become a monarchy.

Students from the city of Joensuu who tabled the proposal said that the change would be a way to end the debate over presidential powers.

The proposal was overwhelmingly defeated.

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