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Monday's papers: President on brewing gov't crisis, Finnish diver dies in France, warm weekend keeps police busy

Finland's newspapers were jam-packed with stories about the implications surrounding the election of the Finns Party's controversial new leader, Jussi Halla-aho. There was tragic news from France that a Finnish man died while cave diving. Finnish police say the warm weekend weather kept them busy.

Image: Yle

Virtually right after it happened on Saturday, Finland's political leaders began reacting to the election of the Finns Party's new chair, the Eurosceptic and anti-immigration hardliner Jussi Halla-aho.

Speaking from his official summer residence Kultaranta on Sunday, President Sauli Niinistö was cautiously sceptical about Halla-aho's victory.

"It appears that [the Finns Party] has become a completely new party," Niinistö said, according to Hufvudstadsbladet (siirryt toiseen palveluun).

The paper writes that Niinistö did not appear to be enamoured with either Halla-aho or the party's vice chair Teuvo Hakkarainen. Both men, the paper notes, have previously been convicted of hate speech.

"[The party] has quite a job before them if they want to convince people that the things that led to their convictions would now vanish from the world. It would behove them to better behave themselves so that no new incidents occur again. I also haven't heard either of them distance themselves from their previous comments," the paper quotes Niinistö.

Halla-aho's win has also raised doubts in other government coalition parties and speculation about a possible collapse of the governing coalition.

Over the weekend pundits speculated whether Halla-aho's immigration policies are viewed as too radical by the other parties in government.

According to Finland's biggest daily Helsingin Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun), Prime Minister Juha Sipilä, who heads the three-party coalition which includes his Centre Party, the National Coalition and Finns parties, will spend Monday examining whether a government reshuffle is necessary.

HBL writes that Sipilä plans to meet with Halla-aho and NCP chair Petteri Orpo on Monday to discuss whether the government can continue in its present form, as well as to ask Halla-aho his positions on the administration's program and his values.

Finnish diver dies in French cave

A 44 year-old Finnish man reportedly died while diving in an underwater cave in France on Saturday, evening tabloid Ilta-Sanomat reports. The paper reports that two Finnish nationals dove into the Font Estramar cave, in Salses-le-Château, in southern France, but for unknown reasons, one of the men did not resurface.

The paper writes that the accident took place 200 metres from the mouth of the cave. Both men were reportedly very experienced divers.

The surviving diver, 45 years old, was reportedly unharmed in the incident.

The Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs has confirmed the death, and French officials are investigating, according to the paper (siirryt toiseen palveluun).

Font Estramar is one of the world's deepest underwater caves and the weekend's tragedy was not the first at the popular diving site. As recently as last year a diver died in the cave, according to the paper.

Warm weather keeps police busy

The weekend's warm temperatures and sunny skies kept police units across the country quite busy, Iltalehti reports (siirryt toiseen palveluun), particularly with drunk drivers.

The paper reports that Helsinki police responded to nearly 400 incidents such as assault and disorderly conduct on Saturday night alone.

In a related story in Iltalehti, a woman reportedly stabbed two people in eastern Helsinki on Sunday afternoon. Police told the paper that a woman stabbed a man in the stomach and stabbed a woman in the upper body. The victims were taken to hospital, but police could not describe the extent of their injuries.

After the woman left the scene of the stabbings, she reportedly boarded a bus and then threatened passengers. Police apprehended the suspect in a park in Helsinki's Vuosaari district, according to the paper (siirryt toiseen palveluun).