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Monday's papers: Crunch week in govt talks, Green EU lead, plenty of pollen

Many newspapers report that political parties in government formation talks are expected to agree on a programme by the end of this week.

Koivun kukintoja. Tämä kuva on otettu alkukesällä.
An early summer example of birch blooms laden with pollen. Image: AOP

Turku's Turun Sanomat is among the papers reporting that SDP chair Antti Rinne is optimistic that the government formation talks he is leading will produce a programme for a new ruling coalition by week's end.

However, Rinne also stated that even if a programme is ready by Friday, that will not necessarily mean he will be able to announce a new government.

Before that final step, Rinne plans on holding a two-day seminar for MPs of the parties in the talks to make sure that they understand what has been agreed upon and to get their commitment to supporting government policies.

On Sunday, the SDP leader denied that the closed-door negotiations have been difficult. Turun Sanomat reports that talks have focused on plans for at least 700 million euros in tax increases. These revenues are said to be earmarked for measures fulfilling campaign promises to improve spending on education, pensions and care for the elderly.

Greens in the lead

The daily Helsingin Sanomat carries a voter survey showing that two Green League candidates, Ville Niinistö and Heidi Hautala are the most popular candidates in next Sunday's EU Parliament elections.

Niinistö is a former MP, Green League chairman, and government minister. Hautala is currently the Greens' only MEP.

Third in this poll of more than 1,000 voters is former SDP Member of Parliament Eero Heinäluoma.

Finnish voters will be electing 13+1 members to the European Parliament. This means that 13 of the candidates elected will take up their posts when the European Parliament reconvenes, and a 14th Finnish MEP will join their ranks if and when the UK leaves the EU and the seats it currently holds are redistributed.

At present, the conservative National Coalition Party and the Centre Party each have three MEPs, the SDP and Finns Party two each, while the Left Alliance, Greens and Swedish People's Party have one apiece.

Meanwhile, the agricultural sector newspaper Maaseuduntulevaisuus carries the results of a poll asking Finnish voters if they would want EU defense cooperation to move towards creating a common EU army.

Of those surveyed, 26 percent were in favour of such a plan, 40 percent opposed, and 34 percent undecided.

When the question was put to 159 of the candidates in the EU Parliament elections, 84 percent were against the idea of working towards creating an EU army.

DUI sentences vary

The tabloid Iltalehti reports that the penalty for drinking and driving in eastern and northern regions is less severe than in other parts of Finland.

The paper quotes a University of Helsinki study showing that nationally, on average, the penalty for first-time DUI is a six-month driving licence suspension and a fine equal to 50 days income for the offender. In cases of aggravated DUI when a driver is found to have a blood alcohol content of at least 0.12 percent, or 0.53 milligrammes in a breathalyser test, the median driving ban is 286 days.

The lightest sentences, the study found, are handed down by courts in the north and east of the country. Younger offenders also tend to get off with lighter sentences.

Under new legislation coming into force at the beginning of June, DUI cases will not go to court unless appealed. Police will determine the period for a licence suspension, and prosecutors will set fines in each case.

Pollen season

Tampere’s Aamulehti shows readers a photo of a city beach on Lake Kaukajärvi with the sand and shore-side waters hidden by a thick carpet of yellow pollen.

Luckily for pollen sufferers, this is spruce pollen which rarely causes allergic symptoms.

However, the paper reports that birch pollen, which does bother many people, is still at fairly high levels in central and northern parts of the country. In southern regions, the amount of pollen from grasses in the air is expected to start rising this week.

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