Åland becomes independent against the will of its inhabitants
years in between 1917-1921 are dramatic in Åland's modern history and
brings Åland forward to its status today - an autonomous province
within the borders of Finland.
After the Russian revolution of 1917
some political groups in Åland felt the winds of change and started
discussing a reunion with the old motherland Sweden.
were held - in the beginning in secrecy - and petitions collected among
the people. A majority were for a reunion with Sweden and a petition
that expressed the wish of the Åland people was presented to the King
of Sweden Gustav V.
Illegal county council
became independent from Russia in 1917 and the government restructured
Åland in 1918 as a province. The Åland people responded with electing
an illegal council that also internationally acted for Åland's reunion
with Sweden. The Swedish government agreed to the demands while Finland
rejected them. But the Finnish government was prepared to allow Åland a
form of inner independence and in 1920 the Finnish government accepted
a self governing law for Åland.
The law became effective on the
6th of May but the Åland people refused to acknowledge it. The Finnish
Prime Minister then arrived to Åland to deal with the unruly islanders
that didn't want any self-government.
The leaders of Åland,
Julius Sundblom and Carl Björkman were accused of high treason and
sentenced to penitentiary, but were pardoned by the Finnish president.
To the League of Nations
The arrest of the two Åland leaders only worsened the conflict and the case was referred to the League of Nations.
June 1921 the league made its decision: Finland was to have sovereignty
over Åland and the self governing law from 1920 should be broadened
with additional guarantees. The Swedish language would be protected and
the Åland land would remain in the hands of the natives. In Åland the
disappointment was great over the decision.
In 1922 the first
elections of the new Åland Parliament were held and its first plenary
assembly was on June 9th of the same year. That day is now celebrated
as Åland's Independence Day.
Nowadays the legislative body of
Åland, the Åland Parliament, is called "lagting" and there are 30
members. The Åland Parliament has the right to legislate its own laws
within several areas such as education, culture, healthcare, industry,
internal traffic, police, post, radio and telephone. Åland follows the
Finnish laws when it comes to foreign affairs and legal questions.