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The Maastricht Diplomat

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Liberals for Åland win back voter’s trust

Åland Is a demilitarized and mostly autonomously operating Finnish region, having been granted autonomy by a 1920 League of Nations decision and is the smallest region of Finland both by area and population. Its capital is Mariehamn and the official language is Swedish. Åland is located in a Finnish archipelago called the Åland Islands, at the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia in the Baltic Sea.

On Sunday, the 25th of October 2023, the archipelago’s population elected their 30 parliament members for the next four years. After losing their governing power in the last 2019 elections, the Liberal Party managed to regain the voter’s trust to form a government with Katrin Sjögren as their current leader, increasing their seats from 6 to 9. Sjögren’s Party is close to the Swedish People’s Party of Finland and the Liberal People’s Party in Sweden.

Besides the Liberals, both the Independent Assembly and the Social Democrats stabilized their influence, securing 5 and 4 seats in the new parliament. The Center Party, which is traditionally one of the major parties in Åland, has receded slightly to 7 seats from its previous 9. Sustainable Initiative also saw a decline in seats from two to just one seat.

Åland’s parliament counts 30 members and was made up of 8 parties during the past term. However, this number has now declined to 6 parties. This is firstly because the only independence-advocating party, Future of Åland, failed to defend its single seat, and secondly because the conservatively profiled party, Ålandic Democracy, did not run for re-election.

The voter turnout among just over 21,000 eligible voters out of Åland’s total population of approximately 30,000 people was 68.3 percent, a slight decrease from the previous election’s turnout of 69.7 percent, but quite similar to the around 70 percent in mainland Finland.

This year's elections saw Ilmatar Offshore's plans for the construction of wind farms in the area north of the Åland Islands as the most discussed topic. Its planned zone spans over about 938 square kilometers, which is equivalent to almost two-thirds of Åland’s land area. Ilmatar is owned by the fund FPCI Capenergie 3, managed by the investment firm Omnes Capital which is based in France. However, it is still unclear if and to what extent the plans will be turned into practice.

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