ÅLAND
Independence

Åland becomes independent against the will of its inhabitants

Ålands historia 4, Ålands flaggaThe 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.

Meetings 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

Finland 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.

In 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.


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