Finland's Christian Democratic Party is hoping to win voters over with a general election platform that focuses on safeguarding families and traditional values. Can proposals to throw more money at families with children convince the electorate to give them enough leverage to form part of the next government?
This week APN begins a series of pre-election party snapshots with international journalist Sam Kingsley and political commentator Sini Korpinen.
The Christian Democrats have been polling steadily at under five percent support, but as Kingsley pointed out, Finland has been known to create rainbow coalitions after elections, to amass the majority needed to implement its legislative programme. The Christian Democrats were part of the government up to 2015, he said, so we shouldn't rule out the possibility that they would be welcomed into the fold again after the upcoming general election.
Despite the party's appeal to tradition, Korpinen added that on the spectrum of conservative parties in Finland, the Christian Democrats are actually more internationally-minded than other parties.
Transgender comedian James MacDonald also weighs in on the discussion in an interview on a recent proposal by conservative councillors in Orivesi near Tampere, to essentially designate the municipality as a binary-sex area and to review the teaching of gender-diversity concepts in local schools.
According to MacDonald, children are less fixated on gender stereotypes, and excluding discussion about gender diversity in schools harms children who may be struggling with their identity.
However Kingsley and Korpinen said they don't believe that the gender issue will be a high-priority item for the election, or even for government formation talks. For the Christian Democrats they said, issues that affect traditional families are of paramount importance.
Discrimination and anti-depressant use top news
At this stage of our podcast we look at the news stories that engaged our social media audience the most this week. First up, readers were drawn to a story about obstacles foreigners face breaking into the Finnish job market. This topic resonated deeply with our audience, drawing over 100 comments, including many personal accounts of discrimination when looking for work in Finland.
Another popular story this week was a story we ran on how more than 400-thousand people in Finland take anti-depressants. Studies suggest that more than seven percent of adults in Finland annually suffer from clinical depression, with up to one in five experiencing at least mild symptoms.
And finally, Finnish president Sauli Niinistö's participated in a light-hearted ice hockey tournament in Helsinki proved to be a fan favourite. The 70-year-old head of state later took took to social media to announce upcoming hip surgery.
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The All Points North podcast is a weekly look at what's going on in Finland. Subscribe via iTunes (and leave a review!), listen on Spotify and Yle Areena or find it on your favourite podcatching app or via our RSS feed.
This week's podcast episode was presented by Denise Wall and Zena Iovino, with additional reporting by Denise. Our producer was Pamela Kaskinen, assisted by Anna Ercanbrack, and the sound engineer was Anttoni Wikström.