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Thursday's papers: Same-sex marriage bill, police not eager to pull guns, turning around the economy

A major issue in the press Thursday is the start of debate in Parliament on a gender neutral marriage bill.

Image: Yle

The Finnish Parliament opens debate Thursday afternoon on a gender neutral marriage bill, before putting it to a vote on Friday.

Helsingin Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun) reported this morning that Speaker of Parliament Eero Heinäluoma told a group of political journalists on Wednesday that he expects it to be a businesslike discussion.

Even though some strong opinions will be presented and emotions may run high, Heinäluoma pointed out that a feature of Finnish cultural is respect for differing opinions, and he does not expect anyone to go to extremes.

However, Helsingin Sanomat reports that extra security in Parliament is being laid on for both Thursday and Friday.

The visitors' gallery has space for around 350 members of the public to follow the debate, and Friday's vote. Heinäluoma said he welcomed the public, but he also reminded those who plan to attend that signs and applause are not permitted, and that the work of MPs may not be interrupted during the debate or during the voting.

Several of the morning's papers, including Turun Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun) reviewed a discussion on the same-sex marriage issue among political party leaders broadcast by Yle on Wednesday evening.

One of the big questions that came up was if the National Coalition Party leader, Prime Minister Alexander Stubb intends to appeal to his fellow party members to vote for passage of the bill.

Stubb did not provide a direct answer to the question, although he did restate his own backing. Instead, he said that he will have a discussion with the party's group of MPs, but that each will cast a vote as they see fit.

This paper also pointed that that if this bill is passed, it will be the first brought before parliament as a citizens' initiative to become law. Also, since the current government will not have time to implement the legislation before the next elections, the issue will have to be taken up once again by the next cabinet and the next Parliament.

Police response culture

Fatal shootings by police in the United States, and particularly a recent one involving a toy gun, prompted Iltalehti (siirryt toiseen palveluun) to look at how police in Finland deal with threatening situations.

It says that the latest similar incident took place on Tuesday in Helsinki when a woman in a dispute with social workers pulled what looked like a revolver, threatened police officers who had been called to the scene and fired two shots.

Police did not pull their own weapons, rather subdued the woman by other means. The gun turned out to be a starter pistol firing blanks.

Similarly, last Sunday following a high-speed chase in Heinola, a woman refused to get out of her car, put her hand in her pocket and told police she had a gun. She, was well was taken into custody without the police drawing their service pistols.

However, police interviewed by the paper did admit that the decision on whether or not to use their own guns has to be made on a case-by-case basis. In Finland, the law bans carrying air-guns or objects that mimic firearms in public places.

Shoring up the economy

The head of the Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK), Matti Alahuhta, told business and economic daily Kauppalehti (siirryt toiseen palveluun)that he sees three main means to get Finland back on the track to economic growth. In the short term, the key will be boosting the nation's competitive position.

For this reason, he said that it is important to continue moderation in wage development. His second focus is on cutting income taxes which would increase buying power, increase consumption and make working more attractive.

The third thing that this business leader views as essential to reviewed growth is public spending cuts that can be achieved through reorganizing and reducing services.

Alahuhta emphasized that the nation's economic future is in its own hands, and told Kauppalehti that if action is taken, a lot could be accomplished within the next two years.

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