Read the latest on coronavirus ⟩
News |

Monday's papers: Leadership styles, chopping wood, warm breezes

The approach of Finnish leaders dealing with the coronavirus epidemic is one topic taken up by Monday's newspaper press.

Kirves iskettynä pölkkyyn.
Puumalan loma-asunnoille matkataan paitsi pääkaupunkiseudulta niin myös Etelä-Karjalasta. Image: Kalle Purhonen / Yle

The Helsinki daily Helsingin Sanomat carries a morning article by international affairs analyst Kari Huhta examining the differences in the management style which governments around the world are using to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

The writer says that the variation in styles says a lot about the political systems and histories of different countries. When the exercise of power by political leaders is so visible, new features of those leaders and systems are exposed to the light of day. "Often it is not a pleasant sight."

Helsingin Sanomat says that there is good reason to assume that world leaders are genuinely working to protect their citizens, and rescue their economies and societies.

While they all are fighting the same threat, there is a wide variety of responses.

The article examines some of the variations, including increased nationalism, calls for more international cooperation, and even some countries where leaders are trying to create a "virtual reality" in which the novel coronavirus does not pose a threat.

The Finnish model, writes HS, is not only far from that virtual reality, but also far from the way in which leaders are addressing the public in other EU countries and democratic nations elsewhere.

As the paper points out, on 16 March five cabinet ministers went before the TV cameras to announce a state of emergency and measures being implemented. In other countries, key events like this have featured one single leader, or a leader and advisers, such as in the case of the US president.

Since that first briefing, the same joint appearances, with some variation of cast, have continued in Finland.

"Hardly anyone would favour a committee as a theoretical model for decision-making in a crisis. What does not work in theory, can however work in practice," Huhta states.

The writer goes on to point out that government decision-making has not been without a certain amount of friction, and more can be expected. Even so, it is surprising that this model works.

The explanation is to be found in the political system and the constitution. Multi-party governments exercise power under the leadership of the prime minister. Holding this arrangement together is an accomplishment by Sanna Marin.

This analysis wraps up with a minor, but telling detail. During televised Finnish government situation briefings, the Finnish and EU flags are off camera in the corner of the room.

"Each country has its special features. In Finland, institutions are at the centre and flags in the corner," writes Helsingin Sanomat.

Swinging the axe

Mobility data published by Google last week showed that with so many restrictions on daily life, the Finns have found an outlet in Finns spending more time outdoors. The report indicated that people spent 48 percent more time in parks and in waterfront settings between 16 February and 29 March.

The farmers' daily Maaseudun Tulevaisuus backs up that report with figures of its own indicating outdoor activities have taken off, reporting a sharp rise in the sale of gardening and forest management tools.

According to this paper, retailers say that sales of chainsaws, brush cutters, axes and gardening tools have shop up by as much as 30 percent.

Kari Kahilainen of the Hankkija chain told Maaseudun Tulevaisuus that so far this spring, machinery tools and other products related to forest work and firewood are selling 25-30 percent more briskly than they were a year ago at this time.

There is more than one reason for the upswing. First of all, most of the country had little to no snow in December through January, leaving the forest floor wet, muddy and unsuitable for wood harvesting. The second, and according to the paper more important reason, is that because of the coronavirus epidemic, more people are home and at their holiday cottages, and have more time to spend on chopping firewood and getting their gardens ready.

There is though a sharp regional divide, with sales low in the Uusimaa region which has been cordoned off.

Retailers are concerned, though that sales may soon be threatened by a general downswing in the economy, with fewer people working and less money for consumers to spend.

No blocked land sales

The Turku-based Turun Sanomat is among papers reporting that the Ministry of Defence has not rejected a single application for the purchase of land in Finland by non-EU/EEA citizens since the introduction of new restrictions at the start of this year.

Under the terms of legislation now in force, land purchases by non-EU/EEA citizens require a permit from the Ministry of Defence. The law is intended to prevent land that potentially has military or national security importance from falling into the wrong hands. In general, these are properties situated within 500-1000 metres of a military or border guard facility.

Over the past three months, the ministry has not rejected any of the applications filed. Sixty permits have been issued and another 15 are being processed. The sales covered involve citizens of more than 20 different countries. The largest single group are Russian buyers.

Most of the purchases are of land in the west coast region of Ostrobothnia and in areas near the eastern border.

Warm breezes

Summer is not far away, the tabloid Iltalehti tries to tells us, saying that this week's weather is, if not proof, at least a hint.

The paper quotes Foreca meteorologist Joanna Rinne as saying that Tuesday will be the warmest day in the near-term forecast, with temperatures shooting up to as much as +15C in southern and eastern parts of the country.

That is close to 10 degrees warmer than normal for this time of year.

If and when those warm breezes arrive, they are likely to be short lived.

The forecast for the Easter holiday weekend is for cold air moving down from the north, bringing night-time sub-zero temperatures all the way down to the south coast and a good chance of snow showers nationwide.

Latest in: News

Headlines

Our picks

Latest

Muualla Yle.fi:ssä