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Friday's papers: Nato support at record high, healthcare delays easing, too in love to buy a ticket

Public opinion survey results published by Ilta-Sanomat on Friday show over 80 percent backing for Nato membership in Finland.

Lippuautomaatti juna-asemalla.
Some people come up with creative excuses when caught on public transport without a ticket. Image: Susanna Pesonen / Yle
Yle News

A fresh survey has found that 82 percent of Finns are of the opinion that Finland's decision to join Nato is the right one. Only eight percent of respondents consider the decision wrong, according to results reached by pollster Taloustutkimus and published by Ilta-Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun) on Friday morning.

"We have a really strong consensus on this. Any even higher number would already give reason to suspect that we live in North Korea. For a democratic country, that figure is at the very upper limit," Taloustutkimus Research Director, Juho Rahkonen, told the paper.

Rahkonen added that he sees this as a strong message to Turkey, the United States and Nato that Finland wants to join the allliance.

Support for Nato membership has not declined even though, in Rahkonen's opinion, the initial shock after Russia's attack on Ukraine has worn off.

"In the minds of Finns, joining is starting to feel like an even more correct solution," he said.

The IS-commissioned poll was the first in which people were asked if the decision to join Nato is "right or wrong". Similar polls on backing for membership by Yle and Helsingin Sanomat last summer, found that almost 80 percent of Finns were in favour of joining Nato.

This latest poll found a clear majority of supporters of all political parties consider the decision to join Nato as the correct one. Majority support was also registered for all age groups.

On Thursday, IS released figures from the poll showing that 53 percent of Finns are of the opinion that Finland should not wait for Sweden's Nato application to be approved. Only 28 percent think that Finland should wait and join Nato at the same time as Sweden.

With or without Sweden

At a press conference in Stockholm on Thursday, Prime Minister Sanna Marin declined to speculate on how long Finland could wait for approval of Sweden's application if Finland's is ratified first, as Turkey has suggested.

The farmers' union paper, Maaseudun Tulevaisuus notes (siirryt toiseen palveluun) that while Finland and Sweden applied for Nato membership at the same time, it was not done jointly, each country applied independently. However, it has been stressed in both countries that a common membership process is mutually beneficial.

Commenting on the situation, MST writes that Turkey's game with Finland and Sweden's Nato membership weakens the unity of the alliance, but that this must not be allowed to cause a rift in the relations between Finland and Sweden.

Simultaneous Nato membership is an important goal, says MST, but one has to be prepared for changes. From Sweden's point of view, it would be better than the current situation if Finland were to become a member as soon as possible. In any case, it writes, at some point both countries will be members of Nato.

Iltalehti (siirryt toiseen palveluun) political affairs reporter, Lauri Nurmi, writes that at the same time as the prime minister was giving assurances in Stockholm of being in step with Sweden, the party leaders were talking with the president about how Finland will proceed if the Turkish parliament approves Finland's Nato membership before the Turkish elections.

According to Nurmi, the answer is unequivocal — in that case, Finland will ratify its own membership immediately and put the documents in a vault in Washington.

Party leaders have discussed parliament's readiness to convene during the spring election break here in Finland.

Nurmi sees all signals indicating that if Hungary and Turkey ratify Finland's membership, then Finland will join Nato within days, regardless of the situation in Sweden.

This, he argues, does not remove the importance of Sweden's Nato membership, nor does it weaken the special relationship between Swedes and Finns. The two Nordic countries will become warm Nato neighbours, even if not in lockstep.

Healthcare logjam easing

Jyväskylä's Keskisuomalainen (siirryt toiseen palveluun) is among the papers carrying a STT news agency report that the situation in hospital emergency rooms has improved.

At end of last year, many of the nation's public emergency rooms were overcrowded due to a lack of spots in hospital wards and difficulties in getting appointments in primary healthcare services.

Responses to a survey by 18 the 21 wellbeing services counties in the country, as well as Helsinki and Uusimaa, found the situation in emergency rooms now described as normal or calmer than at the end of 2022.

Kymenlaakso, Ostrobothnia, Päijät-Häme and the joint emergency services of the Helsinki and western regions of the HUS group reported improved emergency room services. The situation is now described as as normal in South Ostrobothnia, South Savo, Kainuu, Kanta-Häme, Satakunta, North Ostrobothnia and Southwest Finland.

The improvement of the situation in some areas was attributed to a significant fall in the number of Covid patients.

Some regions reported continuing overcrowding at emergency rooms in the evenings and on weekends.

Too in love to buy a ticket

In 2022, almost 86,000 passengers on Helsinki Region Transport (HSL) were caught traveling without a ticket. When HSL ticket inspectors catch passengers without a ticket, some frantically try to come up with an excuse.

As Hufvudstadsbladet (siirryt toiseen palveluun) points out, many rely on conventional excuses, such as that they didn't have time to buy a ticket because they ran to the tram, or that they were only going to go one stop.

Some people, however, get more creative, and as part of a new campaign HSL has put out a song by the Kalevauva duo (siirryt toiseen palveluun), featuring some of the more unusual excuses that ticket inspectors have heard over the years:

“I am in love, which prevents the use of common sense.”

"I don't have a ticket because I threw up."

"Can't people from Oulu travel for free for a year?"

"I haven't been able to buy a ticket because I'm in the middle of eating a sandwich."

"I don't have a ticket because I have this dog with me."

"My mother is on the tram ahead of us and she has my ticket."

"I haven't been able to buy my ticket yet because my lips are so dry. I put on lip balm while digging for my travel card in my bag."

"I don't have my phone because I was sledding."

"Aren't these orange buses free?"

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