The party receives its main electoral support from the Swedish speaking minority, which makes up about 5.5% of Finland's population. During its history, the party has suffered slow but steady decline in adherence, following the decline of the percentage of Swedish-speaking population: in 1907 it got 12% of national votes, after World War II 7% and in the 2003/2007 parliamentary elections 4.5% (8 MPs in 2003, 9 MPs in 2007).
Despite its position as one of the minor political parties in the Finnish parliament it has frequently been one of the partners forming the governing coalition cabinets. Since 1956, the year when Urho Kekkonen was elected President, the party has been nearly continuously in the government. It has been part of all coalitions with the significant exception of Paasio's first government (1966-68), which included only socialists (SDP, the split SDP faction TPSL and SKDL) and the Centre Party. Short periods of rule by single-party minority governments, Miettunen government (1961-62, Centre) and Paasio's second government (1972, SDP) and of nonpartisan caretaker governments have also interrupted its stay in the government. For this reason, SFP is often criticized for being a single-issue party that accepts nearly all policies as long as its own vital interest, the status of the Swedish language is maintained. Notice also that when Vanhanen's first government made Swedish a voluntary subject in the secondary school matriculation exam, SFP still remained in the government. (In contrast, the Greens left the previous government after its decision to build a new nuclear power plant in 2002.)
The Swedish People's Party has the most eclectic profile of any of the political parties in Finland, its members and supporters including (chiefly):
Although SFP represents a small minority of Finland, Swedish mother tongue per se is not much of a political handicap. Several times Swedish speaking presidential candidates have gathered considerable support, although not necessarily as candidates for the Swedish People's Party: