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Friday's papers: Paavo's problems, life expectancy shocks and 24 hour karaoke

Veteran Finnish politician Paavo Väyrynen is back in the news, there's a report about divergent life expectancy and one paper tests Finland's first 24 hour bar.

Paavo Väyrynen.
Paavo Väyrynen. Image: Yle

Most people never join a political party, but veteran MEP Paavo Väyrynen is entangled in three. One of those is the Centre Party of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä, who Väyrynen wants to challenge for the leadership--and therefore the premiership--at a party conference in the summer.

The 71-year-old is popular among the grassroots Centre Party faithful, and his political views are more eurosceptic and less liberal than the current Centre leadership, who see his potential candidacy as both a nuisance and a potential threat. He remains, however, a member of the party through his local branch in Keminmaa, and indeed an honorary life president of the movement.

Väyrynen also founded Citizens Party, which he set up after being refused a ministerial post in the Centre Party-led government, and sits as a councillor in Helsinki as an independent elected in co-operation with the Christian democrats.

Confused? Well on Friday the papers report that Väyrynen has resigned from the Citizens Party he founded, a month after the party board itself announced it had expelled him. Happily for Paavo, this removes one possible obstacle to his candidacy for the Centre Party leadership, which cannot be contested by candidates who remain members of other parties too.

Ilta-Sanomat, however, says that the Centre is looking at changes to the rules that might exclude Väyrynen. One possibility is to demand candidates have not been members of another party in the last year, according to Party Secretary Jouni Ovaska, and there has been pressure from some local branches to strip the bothersome MEP of his honorary life presidency.

The party board meets next week and, assuming they don't block Väyrynen's campaign, the party congress will vote on the matter in Sotkamo in June.

Regional differences in life expectancy

Helsingin Sanomat has a story on life expectancy figures which in 2016 dipped by 0.1 of a year for men, according to the latest survey from the National Institute for Health and Welfare. That is, according to the paper's headline and some experts, a concerning development.

There are also big regional differences in life expectancy. A girl born in Ostrobothnia can expect to live to 85 years old, while a boy born in Kainuu or South Savo has a life expectancy nine years shorter, at 76. Alcohol-related diseases kill as many South Savo men as all cancers added together, while suicide and alcohol are the biggest causes of death for men in Kainuu.

There are other causes for concern. After a decades-long decline in cholesterol and blood pressure, surveys show that the improvement stopped in 2007. That is probably linked to the nation's burgeoning waistlines, with some 2.5 million people overweight in Finland and a possible increase in incidence of heart disease and type 2 diabetes as a result.

Expert Juhani Eskola from the National Institute for Health and Welfare tells HS that even if life expectancy has dipped a little the advice remains the same: eat healthily, exercise, drink in moderation and don't smoke.

24 hour party people

There's only a small amount of snow on the ground, temperatures are only slightly below freezing at night, and in Finland that means it's time to start drinking outside. Helsingin Sanomat has a package on the changes to this year's 'terrace season' thanks to the new alcohol legislation, with extended terrace time available to all.

Not extended by much, it has to be said. Helsinki is allowing outdoor spaces to remain open until 11pm, compared to the 10pm limit currently in force. Bars can now easily serve alcohol until 4am and let customers have until 5am to drink it, if they so wish. Establishments can remain open 24 hours a day, but between 4am and 9am they can't serve alcoholic drinks stronger than 2.8 percent.

HS also went to test one of these watering holes, the Populus karaoke bar in Kallio, over a 24 hour period. They found a bar with regulars, recommended as a good place for a final drink of the night, but they also found a 24 hour karaoke bar with no karaoke from midnight until 9am.

That's down to Helsinki's municipal rules on noisy neighbours, rather than the alcohol regulations.

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