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Friday's papers: Finns Party top municipal poll, EU Covid cash, café corruption case

Outlets explore the battle to approve an EU Covid recovery package and track how parties are performing in the polls.

Ilmakuvassa on Eduskuntalo toukokuussa 2021.
MPs debated the EU recovery plan into the early hours this week. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle

With just under a month to go until the delayed municipal elections on June 13, a new poll in national daily Helsingin Sanomat finds the Finns Party is still the country's most popular political force.

The HS poll found support for the Finns remained stable at 21.6 percent when compared to April's polling. Governing party the SDP remained in second place, with support falling slightly to 19 percent.

The opposition National Coalition Party saw the biggest increase in support, rising 0.8 points to 17 percent.

"The NCP has been pretty visible in public and has had moments that have been able to awaken and cheer up its supporters. This was the case, for example, during the government's budget framework dispute and also in the discussion of the [EU] recovery package, at least initially," Sakari Nurmela, Research Director at polling firm Kantar TNS told Helsingin Sanomat.

Governing parties the Centre Party and Green Party came in fourth and fifth place, at 11.1 percent and 10 percent respectively. The two parties clashed over peat during the government's week-long budget negotiations last month.

"It seems that the government crisis experienced in the context of the budget framework negotiation has not strengthened the position of the Centre. There are no differences in support before and after the crisis," Nurmela told HS.

Find out which party you agree with most with Yle's Election Compass.

Wrangling continues over EU's Covid bailout

After a marathon session lasting 20 hours earlier this week, MPs are set to once again return to Parliament to debate the European Union's 750-billion-euro Covid recovery plan.

Swedish-language Hufvudstadsbladet is among the papers reporting on what could be the next twist in the political drama, as MPs from the eurosceptic Finns Party attempt to postpone further debate on the issue until June.

According to HBL, debate on the bailout package cannot continue until MPs vote on whether or not to refer Deputy Speaker Tarja Filatov (SDP) to Parliament's Constitutional Committee over her decision not to grant a Finns Party request to pause debate on the EU bailout.

If Filatov's judgement is sent to the committee, the debate on the Covid recovery plan will be delayed, HBL writes. If not, MPs will continue to debate the package on Friday.

Member states need to approve their own plans – which include a mixture of grants and loans from the EU – before the whole package can be approved and the money delivered.

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Café corruption case turned on its head

Daily tabloid Iltalehti reports on a case of alleged corruption by Helsinki city officials that has been turned on its head by a preliminary police investigation.

According to Iltalehti, three entrepreneurs in the east Helsinki neighbourhood of Aurinkolahti published a Facebook post that accused city officials of bullying and corruption. The three also claimed the city had stolen their idea for a floating café.

"We have been asked for money under the table so that the plans for our projects could move forward more quickly. We did not agree to this, and since then our business efforts have gone to hell," the post said.

Helsinki Water Transport Ombudsman Tapio Rossi was initially named in the Facebook post. He told Iltalehti the dispute came about following a fractious meeting with the entrepreneurs, who the city believed were docking their floating sauna at Aurinkolahti's public pier without permission.

"I did not shout, nor did the other party. You could say the words I used made my frustration with the situation apparent," Rossi said.

But following a preliminary investigation by police, Iltalehti writes, prosecutor Katri Veran decided to drop the case.

"Evidence of misrepresentation, the pursuit of unlawful economic gain or the intention to cause harm by committing fraud was not revealed in this case," she wrote.

The entrepreneurs now face a counter claim of defamation, which they dispute.

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