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Thursday's papers: Candidate search, return to work and a hot summer

Foreigners can vote in next year's local elections.

Äänestäjä puoluemainosten edessä.
Residents of Finland will soon be asked to vote again in local elections. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

Finland's political parties are preparing for local elections next year, but one paper notes that the coronavirus crisis has changed things—at least for the time being.

The 2021 elections are the first local polls since 2017, and the electoral system incentivises parties to find as many candidates as possible. Polls open in April next year, and most permanent residents of Finland can vote—including foreigners.

Read more: Yle News explains: How to vote—and run as a candidate—in the municipal elections

Voters pick their candidate from lists, the candidates are then ranked in order of votes received within their list, and places on the local council are allocated to each list based on its share of the vote.

That means that in local elections, parties want to have as many people as possible on their lists, and long lists of candidates are seen as a strength.

Newspaper Helsingin Sanomat reports on Thursday that the coronavirus epidemic has slowed candidate recruitment among the parties, as they have had to cancel conferences and events where they would ordinarily sign people up to run.

"It's clear that this spring we have not managed to speak to people in everyday life as much as before," SDP party secretary Antton Rönnholm told HS.

His party is a little behind based on the last election, but they have 1,200 candidates signed up and Rönnholm says he is not worried. The Centre Party, on the other hand, is slightly ahead of its target.

The Centre traditionally has the largest number of candidates, with long lists in the smaller, rural communities among Finland's 300+ municipalities. Last time out the party had 7,461 candidates nationwide, reports HS.

The Swedish People's Party has doubled the number of candidates it had at this stage last time out, while the National Coalition declined to give a figure more exact than 'a few hundred'.

The Greens, the Left Alliance and the Finns Party all declined to say how many people they had signed up as candidates.

Remote working set to wind down

Earlier this week bosses from five big Finnish firms wrote to Kauppalehti asking that the government rescind the recommendation that people work from home wherever possible.

The government subsequently announced the recommendation would no longer apply from 1 August.

KL reports that the five firms are now planning for workers to return to their offices. Elisa and VTT are still going to go back in September.

Kone had already asked office workers to return in two separate shifts, one week at a time. OP and Kesko say they'll be looking at the situation and returning to the office after the summer holidays, in August.

Kesko welfare manager Katriina Ahtee says the firm is getting closer to standard practices, but isn't there yet.

"At the moment we have begun a return to more normal practices. I wouldn't say normal, because we still have safety rules in place," said Ahtee.

Heatwave latest

All the papers talk about the weather. It is warm, and Iltalehti breathlessly says today might see Finland's 85-year-old heat record broken.

So far this year the hottest temperature has been 30.8 degrees Celsius in Kankaanpää, western Finland, on Wednesday.

The number to beat is 33.8 degrees. That scorching benchmark was recorded on 24 June 1935 in Ähtäri, Ostrobothnia.

There is a forest fire warning in place for the whole country, with open fires banned.

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