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Tuesday's papers: Election hots up in Helsinki, party profiles in focus, Tampere hockey fever

There's an electoral feel to Tuesday's newspapers, with several stories about the upcoming municipal elections along with coverage of the biggest hockey matches Tampere has seen for a few years.

Teemu Nurmi ja Tappara juhlivat
Tappara emerged victorious on Tuesday at Hakametsä. Image: AOP

On Tuesday Helsingin Sanomat reports a poll ahead of the local election that offers encouragement for the Green Party, with the party now neck-and-neck with the National Coalition in the battle for control of the capital, Helsinki.

The poll records support of 24.7 percent for the Greens in Helsinki, and 25.9 percent for the National Coalition. That difference is well within the poll's three percentage point margin of error, and suggests there is all to play for in this election.

A win for the Greens would be historic. The NCP has been the biggest party in Helsinki politics since the 1970s, whereas the Greens only got their first councillors elected in 1984. This election has more significance than usual in the capital, as from May onwards the city will be led by a mayor--and each party has declared their candidate.

The parties have agreed that the party with the most votes in the municipal election will install their candidate as mayor, and that will be a powerful, high-profile position in Finnish politics. The two top candidates are both heavyweight former ministers, Anni Sinnemäki of the Green Party and Jan Vapaavuori of the National Coalition.

Party profiles

HS also reports on research into the memberships of the six largest political parties, that is, every parliamentary party except the Christian Democrats and the Swedish People's Party. Although parties keep their records confidential, researchers from a municipal sector foundation sent out questionnaires, gathering responses from more than 12,000 people to give some kind of insight into party demographics.

Researchers found that the oldest party was the SDP, whose members' average age is 61.5. Some 63 percent of card-carrying Social Democrats are pensioners. Green Party members were the youngest, with an average age of 42.9.

The Greens were also the best-educated of all the parties, with 70 percent having a degree and 10 percent holding a PhD or licentiate degree. The Finns Party membership had the least experience of higher education, with just one in four party members holding a degree.

The Finns Party was also the most male-dominated party, with men making up three quarters of the party's membership. Every party had a male majority except the Greens, where 63 percent of members are women.

The wealthiest party members were on the books of the National Coalition, where the average members' income is 4,400 euros per month. The lowest earners were in the Left Alliance, where the average income is 2,700 euros.

Tampere goes hockey crazy

Tampere is widely known as Finland's hockey capital, with two big clubs and an astonishing 32 Finnish championships between them and the Finnish ice hockey hall of fame within the city limits. Recent years have not been kind to Ilves, however, with their last title coming in 1985 and mismanagement condemning them to bumping along near the bottom of the closed Liiga without fear of relegation or hope of real success.

This year, however, they're under new ownership after the much-criticised Vincent Manngard sold up, and coach Karri Kivi has them playing well. They scraped into the wild card round via a tenth-place finish in the league, beat Pori's Ässät in that match-up, and are now in the midst of a derby series against local rivals (and reigning Liiga champions) Tappara.

That has made hockey once again the main topic of conversation in Tampere, as anyone with social media contacts in or from the city will be able to confirm, and even attracted normally Helsinki-focused Helsingin Sanomat to head north to write a colour piece and match report on yesterday's game. The local paper Aamulehti has of course been covering the series in-depth, with a photo gallery capturing some of the atmosphere.

The reporter visited the market hall and local businesses to get a taste of the atmosphere in Finland's most hockey-obsessed city, then went to the Hakametsä ice hall for the evening's main event. Alas, the underdog was soundly beaten, 4-0 by a slick Tappara, leaving the best-of-seven series finely poised at two wins each.

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