Finland’s main daily newspaper Helsingin Sanomat (HS) leads with the story about who might replace Finns Party leader following current leader Timo Soini’s announcement on Sunday that he will step down after 20 years at the helm of party known for its Euro sceptic, anti-immigration stance.
The situation is made unusual by the fact that Soini says he would like to continue in the post of Foreign Minister until the end of the current government’s term.
HS reports that Finns Party members Jussi Niinistö, currently Minister of Defence, and Sampo Terho will announce whether they plan to run for the position on Monday. Another potential candidate is MEP Jussi Halla-aho, who was convicted of ethnic incitement and breaching religious peace in 2012. According to HS, Halla-aho does not have the support of the Finns Party elite: Of the 37 parliamentary MPs, perhaps 6 or 7 would like to see Halla-aho as Finns Party head.
Should Halla-aho become the new party head, HS writes that it could lead to a governmental crisis and even new parliamentary elections.
On Sunday Finns Party newbie MP Leena Meri also announced that she was throwing her hat in the ring for the position.
HS also reports that HIM, one of the Finland’s most successful bands ever, will retire after 26 years with a farewell tour that starts in Spain in June. The love metal band was the first Finnish band to sell gold in the US which they did with their 2006 album "Dark Light."
“Baby’s leaving home”
Ilta-Sanomat devotes its cover to Finns Party leader Timo Soini’s departure and the press conference that Soini held at Helsinki Airport on Sunday afternoon before leaving on a work trip for Brussels. IS reports that there was a tear in the corner of one of Soini’s eyes, and that the seasoned politician told the paper it was because “(My) baby’s leaving home, the Finns Party is my beloved child, and there won’t be another.”
Soini denied suggestions that his decision to step down was made owing to poor health. “Haven’t you noticed that I’ve lost 12 kilos?” he asked the IS reporter, after insisting that he was in top health. His most recent sick leave was in mid-February, when he reportedly slipped while walking his dog.
IS also reports that when it appeared that the worst of the influenza season had passed, health care centres started filling up with people who got sick again.
According to doctor Päivi Metsäniemi, in the worst case scenario people have come down with pneumonia or spesis. "This influenza season even healthy adults have come down with pneumonia," she says.