News |

Thursday's papers: Election predictions, Spanish instruction, public breastfeeding, and teenage language use

Papers in Finland this Thursday discuss a former Centre Party secretary's dark parliamentary election prophecies, the start of Spanish language teaching in three Tampere schools, a bid to protect public breastfeeding, and a letter on teenage cursing from a commuter in Vantaa.

vastasyntyneen imetystä
Image: AOP

Tabloid Ilta-Sanomat features a story on ex-Centre Party secretary Jarmo Korhonen's new book, in which he predicts that Prime Minister Juha Sipilä will be forced to step aside next summer after an election thrashing, and Social Democrat (SDP) Chair Antti Rinne will become Finland's next premier in 2019.

Korhonen says Rinne will achieve this by following in the footsteps of his predecessors, Sipilä and Anneli Jätteenmäki, and campaigning hard on the failures of the current government. The spring 2019 parliamentary elections will leave the Centre Party with just 14 percent of the nation's support, he predicts, down from the peak of over 21 percent they received in the 2015 general elections. 

"The Centre Party movement is now going through the worst division in its history… Liberals have been able to define policy content because they have snapped up all of the key positions in the parliamentary, ministerial and assistant groups," says Korhonen.

The former Centre Party office head says the ruling party in Finland only stands a chance of staying in the top three in the next elections if Sipilä is dethroned at the party congress in 2018.

"Someone has to find the courage to challenge him. Or he could step down voluntarily and let a new chair and prime minister be chosen," he says.

While the centre-right National Coalition Party (NCP) is currently the most popular in opinion polls, Korhonen forecasts that the SDP will clean up in the next general election by positioning itself as the defenders of Finns against the Eurocentric NCP.

"Politicians do well when they can attack from the opposition with simple slogans. Just keep repeating 'the government has failed, the PM should be ousted, we need new elections, and SDP is the alternative that listens to the people'. Voters will reward the hard work," Korhonen tells IS.

Spanish in the Finnish classroom

Tampere daily Aamulehti features an article on the likely introduction of Spanish language instruction in three schools in the southern city. Education officials say demand for the Latin language has been growing significantly.

The city's education and culture committee will today consider adding Spanish language instruction as an A1 option at the Tesoma primary school, and an A2 option in the Kämmeniemi and Pohjois-Hervanta primary schools.  

Compulsory A1 language studies usually begin in the third grade in Finland, and the choices available are English, Swedish, Russian, German, French, Spanish and Chinese, depending on where the school is located. Only English instruction is guaranteed at all schools at this level. The optional A2 language begins by fifth grade at the latest and offers English, Swedish, Russian, German, French and Spanish, once again depending on the school.

Making public breastfeeding bans illegal

Joensuu paper Karjalainen carries a piece from the Uutissuomalainen news agency on plans from the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) to safeguard a mother's right to breastfeed in public with legislation. The proposal is part of a 2018-2022 national programme for the promotion of breastfeeding that was published by THL this autumn.

It is illegal for a mother to be asked to leave the premises if she is feeding her child, for example, in Australia, the Philippines, the UK and parts of the US.

The plan calls for Finland to ratify the International Labour Organisation's Maternity Protection Convention 2000 that would, among other things, allow employees the right to one of more daily breaks or a reduction in working time for the purpose of breastfeeding.

Uutissuomalainen interviewed Finland's Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Annika Saarikko, who says that while she supports the promotion of breastfeeding, she is not enthusiastic about passing legislation. She told the news service that she doesn't like the idea of a society where the first response is always to pass a law.

OMG with the v*tt*s!

And finally a letter to the Vantaan Sanomat freesheet that has been picked up by several other news sources. Otto Favén wrote yesterday about his encounter with a pair of teenage girls on his ride into the city on a commuter train.

Favén explains how he boarded the train at Martinlaakso and was soon joined by two young girls. He says their thick eyelashes, holey jeans, ankle socks and trainers threw him for a loop at first, but as a person who had been teased for his long hair and bellbottoms in the past, he told himself that young people "should be strange and it should show. Clothes are symbols of their ideals and a message to the world." As a good former hippie, he chose the path of acceptance.

The girls sat across from him and he tried to read his book, but he writes that he was soon assaulted with a barrage of foul language, mostly the Finnish v-word (roughly equivalent in use to the f-word in English), along with encouraging 'oh my gods' in Finglish. He says he came to the conclusion that the v-word in Finland has become like a conjunction for young people in their conversations, thrown in for emphasis at every opportunity.

Favén says he eventually gave up reading his book and began to count how many v-words and 'oh my god's the girls were saying. When the train pulled into the Kannelmäki station, the girls got up to leave and he told them his tally. In the ride between the three stops that he had shared with them, the girls had said v*tt* 22 times and 'oh my god' 18 times.

He finishes his letter by wondering if it made any difference to point this out to the young women: "I doubt it. I wouldn't have paid it any mind when I was young."

Latest in: News


Our picks