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Wednesday's papers: Government turmoil, trimming power bills, "lost temple" auctioned

Newspaper analysts see the most recent cabinet clashes as a prelude to next spring's parliamentary elections.

Lower VAT on electricity will trim bills this winter. Image: Wavebreakmedia

Tension within Finland's five-party centre-left coalition government turned into crisis on Tuesday when the Centre Party voted with the opposition Finns Party and National Coalition to make changes to the Nature Conservation Act, a bill it had already approved in cabinet.

Teemu Luukka, a political affairs reporter for Helsingin Sanomat, points out in an analysis (siirryt toiseen palveluun) of the situation, that the core of government action is that coalition partners should support the bills that are approved by government, so that they come into force.

On Tuesday, the Centre Party violated this principle.

Luukka writes that the ability of the government headed by Sanna Marin (SDP) has been put to the test numerous times, but it has never sunk so low.

The Centre's latest attempt to break away from its green-left partners was drastic, but not surprising.

According to HS's information, the Centre threatened throughout the autumn that it may not support all aspects of the Nature Conservation Act in parliament.

In fact, the party has made it clear from time to time that it will no longer necessarily agree to anything that it does not like.

Luukka states that may be that the Centre is no longer ashamed to continue along the same line, shooting down the bills it has already approved once, if it somehow satisfies the party's remaining potential voters.

Writing in the farmers' union paper, Maaseudun Tulevaisuus (siirryt toiseen palveluun), European affairs correspondent Tapio Nurminen placed some blame for the crisis on PM Marin.

He argues that none of the bills that have split the government's joint position were such that a compromise could not have been reached, with sufficient desire and ability.

"It says something about both ability and desire that the prime minister of a government rapidly falling into crisis goes off to visit New Zealand and Australia," says Nurminen.

Many of the issues that have torn the government apart in recent weeks are connected to the EU's major climate and environmental solutions. The ministries involved, writes MT's European correspondent, have worked diligently to influence the progress of the bills both in the EU Parliament and in the Commission.

Now, looking at the rifts within Marin's cabinet, Brussels can ask which of the positions lobbied by various ministries is ultimately the position of the Finnish government.

This mess is anything but a good legacy for the next government. The outcome of this mudslinging is no longer in the hands of the governing parties. The voters will decide the winners and losers in the spring, Nurminen points out.

PM in NZ

Iltalehti is among the papers with coverage of a visit (siirryt toiseen palveluun) by Prime Minister Sanna Marin to New Zealand which started on Wednesday morning local time.

Marin and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a press conference that among other matters, their talks would touch upon the war in Ukraine and the status of women and girls in Iran

The Finnish prime minister told the media that even though there is little trade between the the two countries, they have a lot in common - both are welfare states, there are approximately the same number of citizens in both countries, and the mentality of the residents is similar, in Marin's view.

She added that democratic states must work more closely together in the current geopolitical situation.

Trimming electricity bills

Aamulehti (siirryt toiseen palveluun) reminds readers that the VAT levied on electricity will temporarily decrease from 24 percent to 10 percent as of the first of December.

The change applies to all households and is valid from 1 December to the end of April, meaning that it will be reflected in consumers' bills in January at the earliest.

The tax reduction applies to the sale of electricity and associated contract costs, but does not affect the electricity transmission fee.

The benefit to consumers will vary from a few euros a month to perhaps hundreds.

People living in blocks of flats served by district heating will likely see little in the way of savings. Anyone living in a house relying on electric heating will benefit most from the temporary winter reduction in VAT.

A "lost temple" sold

Ilta-Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun) reports the sale at auction of land in the municipality of Sipoo, just east of the capital, which is the supposed site of the lost "Temple of Lemminkäinen".

The late Ior Bock, a tour guide, actor, mythologist and colourful eccentric, claimed to have knowledge, passed down for over a thousand years through his family, of an ancient underground temple in Sipoo containing vast wealth and treasures.

Dismissed out of hand by historians, several excavations at this site have failed to confirm the claim.

According to the complex and arcane tale spun by Bock the entrance to the temple was sealed and hidden in the 10th century.

Over the years, treasure seekers have flocked to Sipoo from time to time. And, while no treasure has been found, Iltalehti does point out that a thousand-year-old Iron Age axe head was found in a cave excavated at the site last summer.

The paper does not say if the new owners intend to continue the search for the mysterious, illusive temple.

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