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Monday's papers: Vantaa boom, Greens in government and an Indian (or just terrible) summer

In Monday's newspapers there are stories about the growth in population in Vantaa, a subtle shift in the Green Party's rhetoric and a warmish start to September.

Touko Aalto.
Touko Aalto Image: Jarno Kuusinen / AOP

Finland's long process of urbanisation is picking up speed, as numerous observers including mortgage lender Hypo have pointed out recently. That has usually been described as a move from the countryside to the cities, including Oulu, Tampere and Turku, but Helsingin Sanomat reports on Monday that there's a new dimension to the dynamics.

Vantaa is growing quicker than its competitors, and at current rates it is projected to surpass Tampere as the country's third-largest municipality at some point in the 2020s. At present Vantaa's population is 221,199, and Tampere's is 228,901. Vantaa's growth comes from three sources: people moving from elsewhere in Finland, people moving from abroad, and a relatively high birth rate.

The municipality puts that down to improved infrastructure that accompanied the ring rail line that turned commuter rail services into a network, and associated jobs that sprang up along the route and close to the airport. The municipality is investing in schools and daycare centres to serve its growing population, and starting to cut its one billion euro debt mountain.

Researchers tell HS that it's time for an honest discussion about urbanisation. There's no sense in trying to stop urbanisation, according to urban geography professor Mari Vaattovaara, but politicians should try to ensure it's possible to lead decent lives elsewhere too.

Greens set for government?

In a leader article HS takes note of Green Party leader Touko Aalto's shift in tone when commenting on last week's budget plans announced by the government. Opposition leaders typically try to score points by criticising the plans, picking holes in policies and generally promoting themselves as an alternative.

Aalto, meanwhile, told Iltalehti that the proposal contained "many good ideas and policy lines in the right direction, which I will support". That's a very different register to that used by Aalto's predecessor Ville Niinistö, and it was interpreted by HS as a shrewd move by Aalto.

His party is polling at record high levels, running second in most opinion surveys, and if that result carries through to the 2019 election then the Greens are very likely to go into government. The last obstacle was removed with the implosion of the Finns Party, which under Timo Soini defined itself as the antithesis of the Greens, and so there seems little point in Aalto irritating possible government partners at this stage of the election cycle.

Sunny days are here again

Ilta-Sanomat fills a Monday news hole with a hardy perennial: weather news. Apparently this first week of September is going to be warm, with temperatures higher than they were at Midsummer.

Then again, Midsummer was not exactly tropical in Finland this year. In fact, notes IS, this year's high temperatures are the lowest for forty years, with the mercury nudging over 27.6 degrees in Utsjoki for the summer's highest reading.

Northern Finland often records Finland's highest temperature, thanks to the long summer days helping the sun do its work. Utsjoki is also situated in a canyon, which helps capture the warmth when there is some sun.

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