Skip to content

Thursday's papers: Minister salary cuts, Nato's nukes, and father figures

A newspaper asked 19 government ministers if they'd be in favour of taking a pay cut. Only one replied.

Riikka Purra on the Yle TV1 programme Ykkösaamu.
Finance Minister Riikka Purra (Finns) said she agreed with the principle of ministerial salary cuts, but noted that it would not be fiscally significant. Image: Derrick Frilund / Yle
Yle News

Considering the weakened economic situation in Finland, tabloid Iltalehti asked ministers in Petteri Orpo's (NCP) government if they would be willing to reduce their own salaries.

Noting that former PMs Jyrki Katainen (NCP) and Juha Sipilä (Cen) reduced ministerial salaries by between five to seven percent, IL asked the 19 ministers in Orpo's cabinet if they would be willing to take similar action.

The only minister to respond to IL's question was Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Riikka Purra (Finns), who said she agreed with the idea.

"Yes, I would be willing to lower ministers' salaries," Purra responded in an email to IL.

She did, however, add that there were ways to get budget savings from political financing. Purra said cuts to party subsidies, bonuses and party support for wellbeing services counties might be more effective places to start.

"It is not a huge amount of money in the overall fiscal picture, but the principle is important," Purra said.

The salary of a minister currently stands at 11,266 euros a month and the Prime Minister's salary is 14,448 euros per month.

Finland adjusts to nuclear Nato

In an interview with newspaper Ilta-Sanomat Defence Minister Antti Häkkänen (NCP) discussed the delicate issue of Finland adapting to Nato's nuclear deterrence policy.

Finland has long held a policy of nuclear disarmament, but since joining the defence alliance Nato earlier this year, it remains unclear what role nuclear weapons will play in the long term.

"Adjusting to the nuclear alliance requires a huge amount of knowledge on the history and understanding of how nuclear weapons work — and even more importantly, the political practices related to these weapons," Häkkänen told IS.

Häkkänen added that while Finland boosts Nato's traditional warfare capabilities, the Nordic country is a newcomer in terms of nuclear weapons policy.

"Finland is very well versed in terms of traditional, large-scale warfare and related deterrents. We have the know-how, the level of knowledge, the understanding. As far as nuclear deterrence is concerned, we should go with a notebook in hand, so to speak, in these early stages," Häkkänen told IS.

Häkkänen would not say whether Finland would participate in Nato's next major nuclear exercise this autumn, Steadfast Noon. This is the first nuclear exercise since Finland joined the alliance and could, in theory, participate in them by providing air support or sending observers.

A key feature of Nato's nuclear deterrence is European allies hosting US nuclear weapons on their own soil.

Additionally, Häkkänen said there are no plans for any new nuclear deployments and Finland still wants to remain a nuclear weapon-free state.

Men without children

Capital-based daily Helsingin Sanomat covered a statistical trend that shows nearly half of 35-year-old men in Finland are childless.

In the past few decades, the proportion of men without kids in that age group has risen significantly. In 1990, only 31 percent of 35-year-old men didn't have kids.

While 35 years of age is not a cut-off for having children, population researcher Marika Jalovaara said it helps to paint a picture of what is to come. Statisticians often use the ages of 40 years for women and 45 years for men to get a rough estimate of childlessness rates.

HS explained that Finland is exceptional in this regard and its ratio of childless men at that age could be the highest in the world. However, the paper clarified that it is difficult to measure against other countries because the statistics are not well recorded.

"When you present these figures to colleagues abroad, the reactions are quite strong. These are really wild," Jalovaara told HS.

Even compared to other Nordic countries though, Finland still has a higher proportion of childless men than its peers.

Historically, this was caused by heavy alcohol consumption and the legacy of war in Finland, the paper wrote.

By international standards Finland also has a high proportion of childless women at the age of 35, with around one-third. At the age of 40 though, only 23 percent of women in Finland were childless.

Would you like a roundup of the week's top stories in your inbox every Thursday? Then sign up to receive our weekly email.

Latest: paketissa on 10 artikkelia