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Friday's papers: Young people's immigration concerns, fading Russian sanction support and EU elections

Finland's print media reports on two new surveys assessing views on immigration and Russian sanctions.

Lukiolaiset marssivat äänestämisen puolesta.
Students from the Tapiola and Lauttasaari district schools in Helsinki marched on 25 April in support of young people voting in the European elections. Image: Jukka Koski / Yle

Oulu-based newspaper Kaleva carries news of a new internet survey of young people in 11 European countries. Results suggest that half of Finnish residents between the ages of 16 and 26 agree that immigration is a political problem. Finnish youth had the second-most negative view of the issue among the European countries represented in the poll, behind only Polish youth.

Immigration was the most divisive issue in terms of the overall results, as 28 percent of the polled older teens and young adults in Europe felt immigration was an opportunity, while 29 percent considered it a threat.

Climate change and nature conservation came out on top of the list of political problems overall. Finnish respondents were more likely than their European peers to see climate change as an opportunity, while Norwegian youth saw it as the largest threat, comparatively. Young people from Finland were also among Europe's most positive when it came to globalisation and the common currency, the euro.

Between 61 and 79 percent of the young people in Europe support the European Union, the poll suggests. The majority also responded that they don't feel well represented in EU decision-making.

The online survey was executed in January and February of 2019, with over 8,000 young people in Europe responding. Finnish youth were included in the pan-European YouGov-conducted poll for the first time.

Five years since Crimea's annexation

The agrarian paper Maaseudun Tulevaisuus also features results of a survey, this time on the Finnish public's post-election stand on Russian sanctions.

Over 40 percent of the respondents said they would be in favour of ending EU sanctions against Russia if the country would do the same. Some 27 percent of respondents said they opposed this.

Among people who indicated they had voted for the Centre Party or the Finns Party in the April general elections, the percentage of respondents that said they would be in favour of dropping the sanctions against Russia grew to over 50 percent.

Finnish Institute of International Affairs director Teija Tiilikainen says Russian activities in Ukraine that triggered the sanctions are probably starting to fade in people's minds.

"The sanctions have been in force for so long that the original reason they were enacted can start to become a little blurry. Or perhaps there is a feeling that they have not been effective," she tells the paper.

MT writes that a similar survey of Finnish farmers in 2014 found comparative results. Back when the sanctions were new, some 50 percent felt that Finland should be exempted from the EU sanctions, due to its extensive trade relationships with its Eastern neighbour.

MEP seats up for grabs in three weeks

And the country's most widely-read daily, Helsingin Sanomat, has a story on the launch of its Finnish-language election compass for the upcoming European elections on 23-26 May.

There are 751 seats in the European Parliament, and Finland holds 13 of these. This distribution will change if Britain pulls out of the union. If Brexit becomes a reality, the number of seats will drop to 705 and Finland will gain another seat in the body, for a total of 14 MEP positions.

HS says its election compass has 30 questions arranged according to four topics: the EU, exterior borders and safety, the economy and the environment. The Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle will publish its own election compass on 9 May, when an English-language version will also be made available.

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