Åland’s separatist party wants an independence referendum

A man holding Catalan pro-independence flags in Barcelona during a general strike in called by Catalan unions on October 3, 2017. Independence movements in different parts of the world are believed to have gained momentum after the referendum in Catalonia, on 1 October - helsinkitimes.fi.

Ålands Framtid, a party with three representatives in the 30-seat Parliament of Åland, believes a referendum should be organised to determine whether the autonomous group of islands should declare independence from Finland.

Axel Jonsson, the chairperson of separatist party, tells Uusi Suomi that there is a real possibility that the vote would fall in favour of independence.

“I absolutely do,” he replies when asked if he believes the independence campaign could win the support of over half of voters in Åland.

Independence issues have become a topic of public debate following the events in Catalonia, Spain, on Sunday. The Spanish government sought to stop what it viewed was a banned independence referendum by deploying police officers to polling stations, sparking clashes across the region in north-eastern Spain.

Catalonia has announced its intention to issue a unilateral declaration of independence on Monday, after reporting that an overwhelming 90 per cent of voters sided in favour of independence.

Voter turnout, however, was only 43 per cent, as the referendum was widely boycotted by those who would prefer to remain part of Spain, according to Reuters .

Jonsson underlines that an independence referendum should be organised in Åland only in the event that it has the support of the majority of representatives in the Parliament of Åland.

“That’s the only right way,” he says to Uusi Suomi. “The process has to be democratic.”

He estimates that only 20–30 per cent of the population of the autonomous region would currently vote in favour of independence, but reminds that putting the issue up for referendum would likely encourage many to reconsider their views, as evidenced by the momentum gained by independence movements ahead of a referendum in Catalonia and, earlier, in Scotland.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

Photo: Pau Barrena – Lehtikuva/AFP

Read also other news of Helsinki here.

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