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Thursday's papers: Taco Bell arrives, Finns Party divorce, human smuggling and abortions in decline

Today's papers delve into the power struggles inside the Finns Party, the arrival of a well-known American tex-mex fast-food chain, a peculiar attempt at human smuggling and abortion statistics.

Image: Restel

Hotel and restaurant company Restel is bringing American fast-food chain Taco Bell to Finland, reports Kauppalehti (siirryt toiseen palveluun). The first restaurant will open its doors in central Helsinki in the fall.

Restel plans to open three other Taco Bell restaurants in Helsinki and Espoo later in the year, ultimately growing the tex-mex chain to 10 restaurants in the span of the next three years and spreading out to other large Finnish cities.

The company is currently recruiting staff, and aims to hire 300 new employees.

"Taco Bell is a big and well-known brand. Finland is missing a fast-food chain with its profile, and there’s a clear demand for something like it," says Mikael Backman, Restel CEO.

Fighting Finns

The political drama around the populist Finns Party continues. After Jussi Halla-aho was elected the new chair of the Finns Party, he announced he would take a more nationalistic, Euroscpetic line. This caused the near-collapse of the government, which was saved at the last minute by over 20 Finns Party ministers and MPs defecting and forming a new parliamentary group, the New Alternative. This pushed Halla-aho and the remaining 15 Finns Party members to the opposition.

Helsingin Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun), Ilta-Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun), Aamulehti (siirryt toiseen palveluun) and Turun Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun) write about the rift between the two groups. Their relationship ultimately severed after MP Tiina Elovaara claimed on Yle’s live A-studio broadcast she made her decision to deflect after she saw Halla-aho’s supporters making Nazi salutes at the Finns Party convention.

Members of the New Alternative have faced harsh criticism from regional party offices, most of whom stand by Halla-aho’s leadership. The New Alternative, members of which include former chair and Foreign Minister Timo Soini and ex-candidate for chairmanship Sampo Terho, took party members by surprise, and has created a deep wedge between Finns Party supporters. 

The two groups are also in a dispute over who will receive financial support from the Finns Party support foundation. The New Alternative hasn’t requested funding, and according to party rules would only be eligible for it if the parliamentary group established its own political party and the board of the foundation decided to replace the current Finns Party. 

Human smuggling in Saimaa

The Finnish Border Guard has exposed an unusual attempt at human smuggling in Saimaa, report Helsingin Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun) and Iltalehti (siirryt toiseen palveluun).

The incident started to unfold when the Border Guard carried out a routine border control inspection on a 12-metre motor boat, attempting to enter Finland on 6 June through the Saimaa canal. The inspection exposed 17 people hidden inside the boat’s cabin under benches, in closets and other hiding places.

The three Russian nationals have been arrested and are suspected of aggravated human trafficking.

Abortions at historic low

Helsingin Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun) writes that the number of abortions is in rapid decline, reveal statistics by National Institute for Health and Welfare. 9,349 abortions were were carried out last year, making it an all-time low since 1990, when 12,216 abortions were registered.

The statistics reveal women of all ages rely on abortions less than ever. Under-19’s had only 1,138 abortions, which is half of the number in 1990. 40–44-year-olds had half as many abortions as they did in 1990. Most abortions are done in Åland, Lapland and Western Ostrobothia, while the fewest happen in Southern and Eastern Savonia.

Pregnancies in general are at a historic low. Last year, fewer babies were born than ever in Finland’s 100-year peacetime history.

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