On Sunday Finland heads to the polls to elect a president to serve for the following six years. The runaway favourite is Sauli Niinistö, but his lead in the polls has been narrowing, with his support dropping close to the magical 50 percent threshold at which the winning candidate avoids the need for a second round.
Some 36.6 percent of the electorate, more than 1.5 million people, have already cast their votes in advance.
Thursday saw Yle’s final election debate of the campaign, and all the newspapers covered the action. The consensus was that SDP candidate Tuula Haatainen acquitted herself well, albeit by often focusing on areas that are not the president’s responsibility.
Opinion was split on Green candidate Pekka Haavisto, who is second in the polls and as such the most likely challenger in any potential second round. Some pundits in Iltalehti said he’d missed a chance to make a splash and close the gap, while the consensus at Ilta-Sanomat was that he did reasonably well.
Finland’s labour movement is gearing up for a fight with the government over its plans to cut benefits for unemployed people who don’t do enough hours of paid work in a set period. HS takes a look at plans for a demonstration on 2 February, which was called by blue collar unions and could potentially see hundreds of thousands of workers walk out of work to attend.
Finland’s labour laws do mean that many workers are legally entitled to do just that, since a political demonstration has been called by unions, but that’s unlikely to happen according to the union leaders interviewed by HS. They say that although most trade unionists oppose the so-called ‘active model’, many are not willing to strike to protest against it.
One exception is the transport workers’ union AKT, which is set to shut down harbours and buses on the day. They will not, however, close down passenger ferry services—only cargo-handling harbours will be affected.
Winter is back
And Hesari has some happy news for those worried by the milder temperatures and melting snow on the south coast in the last couple of days.
Apparently, starting from Sunday, winter is back. The paper says that around five centimetres of snow at the back end of the weekend, although the paper says temperatures will remain above freezing until Saturday night.