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Friday's papers: Close vote on same-sex marriage, Black Friday and anti-consumerism

Friday's vote on gender neutral marriage in Parliament will be extremely close and may be decided by either the votes of just a few MPs, or their absence from the chamber, writes Helsingin Sanomat.

Istuntosali eduskunnan täysistunnossa Helsingissä torstaina.
Istuntosali eduskunnan täysistunnossa Helsingissä torstaina. Image: Roni Rekomaa / Lehtikuva

Helsingin Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun) reports that as of Thursday, not a single MP had announced an absence from the vote with the exception of one member who is on a long-term sick leave. However, Helsingin Sanomat believes it is possible that sudden cases of "illness" may reduce the number of MPs casting a vote today. It also speculates that the one member who actually is on sick leave, Conservative MP Markku Mäntymaa, may attend the session. Some MPs may abstain in the vote on same-sex marriage.

Helsingin Sanomat provides its readers with a list of representatives whose votes could swing one way or the other.

The paper also explains that confusingly, a "no" vote will mean approval of a change in marriage law while a "yes" will mean support for keeping present legislation in force. Formally, the vote is on whether or not to accept a decision by the Legal Affairs Committee calling for the rejection of the bill on gender neutral marriage.

If backers of the change win the vote, the bill will next go to Parliament’s Grand Committee and will go through at least two more votes before being finally approved or rejected.

If opponents of the bill win Friday's vote, the process on the marriage bill ends.

Demo and counter-demo

The Metro (siirryt toiseen palveluun)free sheet reports that police will have extra patrols out during the day in the area near Parliament. Police have received formal notification of two demonstrations that are to take place during the afternoon - one in support of same-sex marriage, and one in opposition.

Helsinki Police Inspector Lauri Hakkala told the paper that the demonstration opposing the bill is likely to be small with organizers saying that they only expect a few dozen people to take part.

In contrast, a Facebook event page for a demonstration in support of same-sex marriage had received over 12,000 notices of participation as of Thursday afternoon.

Inspector Hakkala said he was unaware of any indications of factors or groups that might escalate the demonstrations, however police will be ready if things get out of hand. He noted that emotions are running high and when extremes face off there is always the chance that an exchange of opinion can become very sharp.

A kiss is just a kiss

The newsstand tabloid Iltalehti (siirryt toiseen palveluun) reports what it calls a "novelty in Finnish politics" - an offer by one party leader to another of a kiss during an election panel interview.

Iltalehti writes that at the end of a televised Yle discussion with political party leaders this week, Left Alliance Chairman Paavo Arhinmäki tried to give a kiss to Finns Party Chairman, and same-sex marriage opponent, Timo Soini.

"Shall we have a little kiss now or on Friday?" Arhinmäki asked and put his arm around Soini's neck.

"No kissing today or on Friday," Soini shot back with a laugh.

To buy or not to buy

The American practice of "Black Friday" is establishing a beachhead in Finland and the Tampere-based daily Aamulehti (siirryt toiseen palveluun)explains the phenomenon to its readers.

"Ads for Black Friday are being seen today in Finland, too. It looks like the day is making its way into Finland, like Halloween did."

Aamulehti explains that the final Friday of November is the biggest sales day for retailers in the USA when big savings are on offer. It also points to the darker side of huge crowds of shoppers and even fatalities.

The paper notes that so far, Black Friday sales are mostly being seen for online shopping.

Meanwhile the business and economic daily Talouselämä (siirryt toiseen palveluun)reports that the Finnish Nature League has launched its annual campaign against excessive consumerism with its own "Buy Nothing Day".

The campaign lasts for a month and organizers say that the time saved by not shopping can be used, for example, for coming up with ideas for non-commercial Christmas presents. The Nature League is urging people to think about how many adults actually need to get or buy gifts.

To mark the day, "junk trees" are being set up at Helsinki's main railway station and Tampere's main library. They will be decorated with discarded electrical and electronic equipment to remind people what a short useful lifespan such devices usually have, and what their impact is on the environment and the people who produce them.

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