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Thursday's papers: Government crisis, sexual harassment and winter cycling

Thursday's papers cover the government's new crisis over social and health care reforms, sexual harassment in the film industry and all the necessary equipment for cycling in the darker months of the year.

Petteri Orpo ja Juha Sipilä, kuvayhdistelmä.
Reports suggest relations between NCP leader Petteri Orpo (left) and Centre Party chair Juha Sipilä (right) are strained. Image: Mikko Stig / Lehtikuva

The Juha Sipilä government has been beset by disputes and wrangling over reform of Finland's health and social care system. The basic deal is explained here, and it involves new regional authorities to oversee the services and an increased role for private providers. This week the model for opening up services to private providers should proceed to parliamentary scrutiny, and there seem to be problems.

The government's plans have been criticised by MPs, health care professionals and constitutional law experts, and may need extensive revision. The National Coalition Party, however, is holding fast to its plan to open as much of Finland's health care system as possible to private providers --and Ilta-Sanomat reports that has caused a breakdown in relations with the Centre Party.

Things have gotten so bad, according to IS, that PM Juha Sipilä has asked the Social Democrats to replace the NCP in government if the dispute goes unresolved. That report was denied by the PM, but that explanation looked unconvincing when his own MPs were posting on Facebook about the 'farcical' discussions.

Collapsing government?

Helsingin Sanomat publishes a leading article in which it analyses the options. The SDP are unlikely to agree to enter government with just over a year left before elections are due. In the summer the party even said that it would only enter government after new elections.

Those elections would see it and the National Coalition improve their position in parliament, based on current polling, but the Centre would risk dropping from first position to fourth in terms of vote share.

So the Centre is likely to do all it can to avoid new elections. The NCP could gain in a new vote but its cherished health care policies might fall by the wayside, and in any case it probably does not want a new election until after the Presidential election due in January.

And lastly, HS notes that the government is set to benefit from an economy that is finally growing after years of slump. Whatever disputes the governing parties have, it would be a surprise if they could not limp on until 2019.

Not just Weinstein

The Finnish film industry has been rocked this week by news that, unsurprisingly, it's not just Harvey Weinstein who uses his power to harass women. Actor-director Heidi Lindén tells Ilta-Sanomat on Thursday that she has herself been harassed and she has also collected stories from more than forty women about their harassment.

They detail incidents where male actors, crew, directors and producers intimidate, grope and leer at women in the entertainment industry. The stories, some of which IS prints, include stories of a director entering a hotel room with his own key in the middle of the night, groping, lewd comments and one incident where a woman said she had to fight her way out of a hotel room.

"A lot of times an interview with a producer or director has been arranged for the daytime, but it's switched to the evening at some restaurant," said Lindén. "When you arrive there's a bottle of red wine on the table and the guy says he lives nearby and that if the work really interests you, then it'd be nice to get to know you better. That's happened to me too."

IS asks the actor's union about the phenomenon, and finds that little of this harassment is reported. The Finnish film industry is small, say union reps, and many actors fear the repercussions if they speak up.

Light up your bike

Tampere daily Aamulehti reports on local police efforts to ensure cyclists stay safe. Officers are monitoring cyclists in the darker hours of the day to ensure they're appropriately equipped with lights on the front of their bikes.

A new law will also mandate red lights at the rear, but for now they're just highly recommended. Fines are possible for transgressors, but police say the biggest motivation should be cyclists' own personal safety.

"Lights shouldn't be used just because of the police, but for your own safety and the safety of others," said Jouko Kilpi of Tampere police. "It's really dangerous if a dark bicycle slides on the street or in front of a car."

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