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Thursday's papers: Bill time-out, crash analysis, tourist rush

Finnish papers this Thursday look at jammed alcohol law reform talks, the continuing investigation into a fatal car crash and cruise ships bringing in more than 10,000 tourists in one day.

Juomapulloja Alkon hyllyssä.
Alcoholic products with 5.5% alcohol are not yet allowed in Finnish stores. Image: Emmi Korhonen / Lehtikuva

A dour Prime Minister Juha Sipilä gazes into space from the pages of Ilta-Sanomat this Thursday, accompanied by the quotation headline, "I'm sure we'll sort out this booze issue". The issue in question is the still-contested alcohol law reform, which would free up a host of restrictions on serving and selling alcoholic drinks.

The reform has been in the works for the past two years, and one year ago the alcohol bill was agreed upon; but it has yet to be finalised, and IS writes that now is not the time for hasty action. Talks over the bill fell through on Wednesday, with Sipilä, Finns Party leader Timo Soini and Minister of Finance Petteri Orpo giving up late on Wednesday – though all agree that the reform must come, one way or another.

"The government will next decide where to go from here. We're obviously taking a bit of a time out," Sipilä comments in the tabloid.

Orpo tweeted his feelings after the talks ended, saying that there is no scenario where the law would not be passed, and that "solutions are needed".

The question the reform seems to hang on is voting by conscience, which Prime Minister Sipilä is pushing for, rather than bringing the vote in line with party policy.

Finns Party MP Tom Packalén comments angrily in IS that the stuttering bill talks "annoy him very much", and that letting every politician vote on their own conscience would lead to nothing being decided at all.

Driver's mental state in question

In ongoing main news, Tampere region paper Aamulehti reports that the minivan driver who killed two teenagers in a suicide attempt in February is to undergo a psychiatric assessment as part of his trial.

The driver faces 13 years in prison if prosecutor Mika Mäkinen has his way; but no new developments are in store until the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) has made its evaluation.

Central in the driver's case is not only that two people were killed but that the man attempted vehicular suicide – something that he has admitted to doing multiple times in the past. Mäkinen says in AL that he believes the man to have chosen the light-weight moped car to crash into deliberately.

"I hold that the accused was aware that the oncoming car he crashed into was a light vehicle," Mäkinen says in the paper. "Considering his past attempts I maintain that he drove into the moped car in order to survive the crash himself."

Thousands of visitors

Finally main daily Helsingin Sanomat runs a small piece on a one-day boom in tourism in Finland's capital. Some 11,000 foreign visitors arrived in Helsinki on Wednesday as five international cruise liners docked in their respective harbours at once.

Based on current reservations the coming tourist season is set to be another whopper this year, with 270 cruise ships carrying some 440,000 passengers making the journey to Helsinki.

Two Canadian visitors interviewed for HS disembarked from the grand Norwegian Getaway ship and had just five hours to take in the Nordic city. In that time Chris Hales and Susan Dexter found themselves impressed with the local transport system.

"Particularly the trams," says Hales in the article.

"We'll be back for sure – but in the summer," adds Dexter. "We may be Canadian, but it's still so cold here!"

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