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As Finnish PM stands in for Swedish counterpart at EU summit, newspaper lauds Finland's policies

An editorial in Swedish tabloid Expressen says the Scandinavian country could benefit from some Finnish leadership.

Löfven ja Marin
File photos of Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) and Swedish PM Stefan Löfven. Image: EPA ja Lehtikuva

A couple of days before European Union leaders gathered in Brussels for a special summit on Thursday and Friday, reports emerged that Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) would represent Sweden at the meeting and stand in for Swedish PM Stefan Löfven, so he could go to his mother's funeral.

An editorial in Swedish tabloid Expressen theoretically pondered whether it would be a good idea for the Finnish premier to extend her service to Sweden, saying that there are "several political areas that would work better with Finnish leadership," including in areas like housing, education and how it has handled the coronavirus crisis.

The editorial piece listed five areas in which Finland was doing a better job.

Policing

"There are not many Finnish police officers--police density figures are lowest in Europe--but they're effective," the paper wrote, saying that Finland solves 98 percent of murders, compared to just 82 percent in Sweden.

The paper suggested however that there may be more gang criminality in Sweden, but said Finland's "more balanced" immigration policies have probably played a more important role in that matter, without specifying what it meant by the suggestion.

Finland also solves a large proportion of burglaries, according to the paper, and added that one reason behind the efficacy of Finnish police could be that the law enforcement agency has access to databases shared between security police, customs and border authorities.

Housing

The editorial said that, unlike Sweden, Finland broadly deregulated its rent control laws during the financial crisis of the early 1990s, making it easier and cheaper for people to find places to live.

The paper also noted that Finland managed to decrease the number of homeless people by 70 percent over the past three decades.

Defence

After the fall of the Iron Curtain, Finland spent more than Sweden on national defence, the paper wrote, and never ended its military conscription programme.

"Above all, [Finland's focus] was on defending the homeland at a time when Sweden was investing everything towards international efforts," the editorial said, noting that the Finnish Defence Forces gets more value for the amount spent, and that it acquired many of its weapons systems "off the shelf or from the secondary market," thereby saving money.

Coronavirus

The paper also noted that so far, Finland has seen 90 percent fewer coronavirus-related fatalities than Sweden and its economy has not been hit as hard.

"The recipe [for that success] was quick closures--but no total lockdowns," the editorial read.

However, the paper somewhat erroneously lauded Finland's National Emergency Supply Agency for its ability to "quickly provide healthcare workers with face masks and respirators".

The agency's boss Tomi Lounema, resigned in April after he admitted spending ten million euros on protective equipment that either was not up to scratch for hospital use, or not delivered by the reality TV star with whom he had agreed the contract.

Education

While Finland has lost a bit of ground in the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) in recent years, Expressen's editors said that it is still ahead of its Nordic neighbours.

"Unlike in Sweden, the differences in Pisa results between Finland's schools are small," the editorial said, noting that Finland's biggest strength in education was maintaining the high status of the teaching profession.

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