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Friday's papers: Coalition crunch, ex-PM criticises president, hockey humbling

There is a morose mood in Finnish newspapers on Friday morning, after Canada ended Finland's hopes in this year's ice hockey world championships.

Hockey players on the ice at the Ice Hockey World Championships in Tampere on 25 May 2023, seen from above.
Canada beat Finland 4-1 at the Tampere Arena on Thursday evening. Image: Tomi Hänninen/Chilipictures
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Many papers report on Friday that the four-party talks aimed at forming Finland's next coalition government went late into the night on Thursday.

The parties have been focusing solely on the two most divisive issues — climate policy and immigration — since Wednesday, with Finns Party leader Riikka Purra telling the media earlier this week that finding consensus on these two topics will reveal whether this right-wing alliance has any future.

Although an update on this make-or-break situation had been expected by Thursday evening, Tampere-based Aamulehti writes that National Coalition Party (and government formation) leader Petteri Orpo said some progress has been made on climate talks, but the parties have agreed to give more time to the immigration issue.

"The chairs of the negotiating tables said that it is difficult because there are big differences between the parties, especially on immigration. Still, the same people believe that these issues can be solved if there is a will," Orpo said.

This week's episode of All Points North hears the latest on the make-or-break government formation talks. Listen here.

Former PM criticises President

Helsingin Sanomat notes the "harsh words" used by former Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen (SDP) in his criticism of Finnish President Sauli Niinistö during a speech hosted by the Atlantic Council of Finland.

Lipponen referred in particular to the visit to Finland by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky earlier this month, which was hosted by Niinistö.

Outgoing Prime Minister Sanna Marin, of the same party as Lipponen, was not invited to the summit with Zelensky, Niinistö and the prime ministers of the four other Nordic nations, but only to a "working lunch". This led to much discussion and consternation on Finnish social media channels, and to the President's Office releasing an official statement with a three-part explanation.

In his speech, Lipponen said the prime minister should not have to meet "a guest of honour through the kitchen", adding that the decision to omit Marin from the summit was "protocol pulled out of a hat."

"I hope for more respect for parliamentarism from the next president," Lipponen concluded.

Finland slip up on home ice

There is widespread coverage across the Finnish mediascape on Friday morning of Canada ending Finland's defence of the men's ice hockey world championship at this year's quarter-final stage in the Tampere Arena on Thursday evening.

The Canadians exacted emphatic 4-1 revenge for losing to the Leijonat (Lions) in last year's final, played at the same venue.

Tabloid Iltalehti calls the defeat a "merciless disappointment" and notes this is the first time Finland has failed to reach the last-four stage since 2018 — and only the seventh time this century.

Other words used to describe the defeat were "catastrophe" (Helsingin Sanomat), "disaster" (Ilta-Sanomat) and "dream-crushing" (Keskisuomalainen).

Suomen kannattaja Kanadan osuman jälkeen.
Dejected Finnish ice hockey fans inside the Tampere Arena on Thursday evening. Image: Tomi Hänninen

IL laments a series of missed chances by Finland's NHL stars but notes the crucial role Canada's "excellent" netminder Samuel Montembeault played in the win.

In the semi-final, Canada will face Latvia, following their surprise win over Sweden in Riga. The other semi-final has another of the tournament's surprise packages, as Germany will play the USA.

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