Languages top election issue in Finland

The Finnish Parliament building (photo by Cako/Wikipedia)

The position of the Swedish and Russian languages is a hot issue in the Finnish election campaign.


Finnish voters who will go to the polls in parliamentary election this Sunday are more concerned about the language situation in the country than in a long time. According to election observers, the language debate will this year be of major importance for voters’ preferences.

A growing number of people tend to believe that Finland should abolish Swedish as the country’s second official language, Swedish Radio reports. Only a few percent of the Finnish population has Swedish as their first language and a big number of officials do not handle Swedish language in their jobs.

The debate has been additionally heated by a report from the Council of Europe which states that Swedish language’s position as Finland’s second official language is in danger in the longer term. The report on minority languages states that the position of Swedish is threatened by officials’ poor language skills and the lack of opportunities to study the language, Yle News reports.

Meanwhile, the position of the Russian language in Finland might see a brighter future. That can be illustrated with the fact that several municipalities in the eastern part of the country are applying for permission to upgrade the role of the Russian languages in local schools.

Read also: Russian language will not replace Swedish

According to Statistics Finland, last year 5.42 percent of the population spoke Swedish as their mother tongue. That was followed by Russian at 1.01 percent and Lapp languages at 0.03 percent, Yle reports.