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Thursday's papers: European arrest warrant, pols' liberal shift, golden years at work

Police plan a European arrest warrant for a runaway suspect, politicians veer left and plans are afoot to ensure people stay on the job in their senior years.

eläkeläisen kädet laskevat euroja
A project team has apparently been exploring both carrots and sticks that will either make it more difficult to retire early or promote the benefits of remaining on the job longer. Image: AOP

Police are preparing a European arrest warrant for the 33-year-old man suspected of a stabbing attack last weekend that injured two adults and three children, according to tabloid paper Ilta-Sanomat.

The proposed cross-border warrant allowed a Helsinki court to remand the assailant -- whom the daily named as Abduljabbar Al-Hmedavi -- into custody in absentia on Tuesday on suspicion of attempted murder, among other offences.

"A European arrest warrant requires a thorough description of the act. We have discussed it with the prosecutor, who will make a decision about it later," Detective Inspector Pekka Hätönen told IS, adding that the suspect might still be in Finland.

The investigator said however that police cannot rule out the possibility that the suspect has already left the country, hence the move to remand him in absentia. The suspect's 28-year-old brother was also remanded into custody on Wednesday for allegedly helping to plan the knife attack, although he was reportedly not at the scene when the stabbings occurred.

Political views take a step left

Almost all of Finland's parliamentary groups have taken a step to the left since the country's last general election in 2015, says daily Helsingin Sanomat. The paper reported the finding after analysing the responses of over 1,700 candidates for its election compass ahead of next month's parliamentary vote.

The analysis revealed that based on their answers, Centre Party and Swedish People's Party candidates in particular had moved closer to the left of the political axis than four years ago. Over the same period, the views of Finns Party candidates had become more conservative, while many others had edged toward more liberal principles.

According to HS, the shift to the left mostly reflects significantly less support among candidates for the privatisation of public services than during the last parliamentary elections. At the same time, nearly all candidates were more likely to lean toward hiking taxes rather than cutting public services or social benefits.

Helsinki University political science lecturer Tuomas Ylä-Anttila speculated that the slide to the left was the result of heavy criticism levelled at the policies of the Juha Sipilä centre-right administration.

"For example, the perception has arisen that sote [social and health care] reforms have been crafted based on conditions set by private health care providers and that the competitiveness pact allowed companies to steamroll employees," he noted.

Work longer or pay more taxes

Tampere-based daily Aamulehti picks up the employment theme by reporting on a Finance Ministry working group looking at ways to increase the employment rate among older folk. The project team has apparently been exploring both carrots and sticks that will either make it more difficult to retire early or promote the benefits of remaining on the job longer.

The end game is to reduce the number of unemployed people on the books by 10,000 by keeping people at work longer and getting more unemployed people into jobs. The background to the working group's deliberations is Finland's growing life expectancy, which is creating pressure on the state to either raise taxes to pay for services or to cut services.

In ten years, the employment rate among 60 - 64-year-olds has risen by more than 12 percentage points -- the biggest increase of any age group -- noted Merja Kauhanen, research coordinator at the Labour Institute for Economic Research. However the working group said that compared to Sweden and Germany, there is still room for improvement.

Led by finance ministry permanent secretary Martti Hetemäki, the working group has been pondering the issue since last spring and is due to present its final report very soon.

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