Wednesday's papers: Sote excitement, Finns on religion and sex education

The papers on Wednesday cover wrangling over care reforms, a survey showing attitudes towards Islam, and British concerns over Finnish sex education.

Finnish sex education struck a nerve among British conservatives. Image: AOP

It's been a long time in coming, but Finland's planned reform of social and health care is finally reaching a relatively interesting stage of the legislative process: a possible yes-no vote on the package bringing in a new tier of regional government and expanding the role of private providers in healthcare provision.

It's a complicated package of legislation that could conceivably see the government fall, and so Ilta-Sanomat's handy guide (siirryt toiseen palveluun) for the uninitiated today is a valuable tool to help understanding the process from here. Parliament's Constitutional Law committee is the current centre of debate over 'sote', and it could prove decisive.

Last summer the committee found serious shortcomings in the government's proposal and sent it back for revision. That process took nine months, before the package returned to parliament. If they find similarly serious problems in this version, the government will run out of time before the April 2019 elections and 'Sote' in its current form will be dead in the water.

If they find the proposal only needs small revisions, then it could proceed for the social and healthcare committee to produce its own opinion on the reform, and then to a vote before parliament's summer holiday begins on 6 July. If that timetable is kept, the government is not home and dry: most calculations suggest the plan has the support of 101 legislators after several defections from the National Coalition.

If just two more government MPs change their minds, the proposal could be voted down--and then the government could collapse.

Islam in Finland

Helsingin Sanomat covers (siirryt toiseen palveluun) a survey by Pew Research (siirryt toiseen palveluun) on attitudes to religion in western Europe, with Islam and Muslims looming large in the survey. HS leads with the news that a majority of Finns regard Islam as incompatible with 'national values', even among those Finns who hold no religious affiliation.

That was the highest figure among the 15 countries surveyed by Pew, with the corresponding proportion in France and Sweden--both countries with considerably greater experience of real-life Muslims--at around a third of respondents.

On the other hand, some 66 percent of respondents said they'd accept a Muslim as a family member, with 28 percent saying they would not accept a Muslim in the family.

Muslims would be accepted as neighbours by 83 percent of respondents, however, with some 93 percent saying they'd be fine with a Jewish family moving in next door.

Risqué sex ed too much for Brits

Iltalehti picked up (siirryt toiseen palveluun) on a Facebook post by the Traditional Britain group, a socially conservative UK group that proclaimed its disgust at sex education material used in Finnish schools. The group had discovered a book that includes images portraying a white women having sex with a black man, and two men having sex together.

"Finnish sex-ed book for school children (clicking image makes more explicit)," the group helpfully informed its family values-orientated audience. "For those with really strong stomachs, see the source."

The comments underneath the Facebook post were predictably sour, with some mentioning Finnish war hero General Carl Gustaf Mannerheim and eventually bemused Finns joining the discussion to suggest that maybe Britain needed more and better sex education.

"We're often asked by young people in our sex advice chat service, what something means and how to act in a certain sexual situation," said Maria Oinonen of Hivpoint, the organisation behind the material. "Young people will seek information from somewhere anyway, so it's better that they get good information from a trustworthy source than seeking the same thing from porn, for example."