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Monday’s papers: Finland’s new Prime Minister, Paatero's return, and an industrial strike

The nation's youngest PM grabs the headlines, but there is also a ministerial comeback as 100,000 go on strike.

Sanna Marin och Antti Rinne håller presskonferens.
Sanna Marin is to replace Antti Rinne as Prime Minister of Finland. Image: Lehtikuva

Finland’s newspapers are dominated by one story: the selection of Sanna Marin by the Social Democratic Party Council to be the next Prime Minister.

Helsingin Sanomat writes that Marin’s slim victory over Antti Lindtman at the council meeting on Sunday night means the Finnish government is now run by five women - four of whom are under 35.

If Marin also becomes the chair of her party — and she has indicated that she intends to challenge outgoing Prime Minister Antti Rinne for the position — then all five parties in the coalition government would be chaired by women, HS writes.

Alongside Marin as Prime Minister will be the 32-year-old leader of the Centre Party and Minister of Economic Affairs Katri Kulmuni — who has now been named to become Finance Minister, 34-year-old Maria Ohisalo, who heads up the Green Party and serves as Interior Minister, 32-year-old Left Alliance chair and Minister of Education Li Andersson, and 55-year-old Swedish People’s Party leader and Minister of Justice Anna-Maja Henriksson.

HS’s sister tabloid Ilta-Sanomat has a profile piece on the new PM — as do many other papers — to introduce the "relatively unknown" Marin to their readers.

The paper speaks to a number of Marin’s former colleagues and the comments range from very positive: "she is smart and quick to learn", according to a former colleague on the Tampere city council, to very critical: "intense green left-wing freak", from a source who did not wish to be named, IS writes.

The paper also notes that the "calm and restrained" Marin can show a tougher side too, as evidenced during a famous Tampere city council meeting (video with English subtitles) in 2016 when she became increasingly exasperated at the behaviour of some of her tram-sceptical council colleagues as they filibustered the debate.

Paatero's long week

The old adage, usually attributed to former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson, that a "week is a long time in politics" is certainly true for Sirpa Paatero.

Tabloid Iltalehti writes that the former Minister for State Ownership Steering, who resigned on November 29 after providing confusing answers about what she knew and when in relation to national mail carrier Posti’s plans to cut the pay of 700 workers, is now back in politics as Finland’s Minister of Local Government.

The tabloid explains that although Paatero tended her resignation to Rinne and went on sick leave, the resignation was not processed before Rinne himself resigned on December 3.

"Well, yes, I have to admit, it's been quite a tough week," Paatero told the paper, adding that she is "of course delighted and really taken with confidence" that she figures in Marin’s future plans.

100,000 start strike

Turku-based daily Turun Sanomat reports on a planned strike by as many as 100,000 workers that began on Monday morning. The strike, one of the largest in recent years, will see workers attached to the Industrial Union, Trade Union Pro and the Federation of Professional and Managerial Staff YTN down tools for the next three days.

This includes workers involved in fuel production, pharmaceutical companies, mines and several technology companies.

The paper writes that the strike is unlikely to have an impact on the lives of ordinary citizens in the short term but if it were to be prolonged, it may impact the availability of some medicines and the distribution of heating oil.

The paper also quotes Minna Helle, labour market director at the Federation of Finnish Technology Industries, who believes the strike will have a detrimental effect on Finnish exports over the coming days.

"There is little awareness among international customers that products will not be delivered due to the strike. This poses a threat to customer relationships and Finland's reputation," Helle said.

In response to her comments, Riku Aalto, president of the Confederation of Finnish Industries, said that employer representative always try to paint "gloomy clouds" in these situations.

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