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Thursday's papers: PM speech backlash, university cut talks, demo reminder, film festival starts

This Thursday each and every Finnish paper goes into PM Juha Sipilä's rare TV appearance and its pros and cons. Dailies also mention the University of Helsinki's drastic downsizing plans, remind readers of Friday's widescale service stoppage and analyse the Helsinki Film Festival's top flicks.

Helsingin yliopisto
The University of Helsinki will see 1,200 sacked in the next five years, says HS. Image: Yle

Domestic dailies are all over Prime Minister Juha Sipilä's historic television address, a fifteen-minute speech broadcast on Wednesday evening's prime time spot to more than a million viewers. Several papers publish the speech in its entirety and several experts analyse Sipilä's words and performance – not altogether favourably.

The speech, according to tabloid Iltalehti, directly passed the buck in solving Finland's economic downshift to employee interest groups. The paper says that the previous PM to address the nation on TV was Esko Aho in 1993, 22 years previously. As for the address itself, IL quotes communications specialist Pekka Isotalus wondering aloud about Sipilä's audience: "Who was he even talking to?" runs the headline. Where Ilta-Sanomat lists positive aspects of the speech from party representatives along with the negative aspects – Sipilä's emotional appeal to people's humanity have many praising his stance – Isotalus has little but critique to offer.

"He definitely got people's attention," he says in the paper, "but he didn't use his time wisely at all. He said nothing new, didn't underline the key issues and spoke extremely monotonously."

Helsinki University to sack 1K, Friday a mess

In the wake of Sipilä urging Finns to keep heart in a tightening economic atmosphere, papers also report on direct consequences of the government's austerity measures. The University of Helsinki, widely considered the country's leading university, announces that it will begin employer-employee talks next week. Helsingin Sanomat has the outcome: 1,200 academics and other university employees will lose their jobs by 2020, 15 percent of the workforce, starting early next year.

"So much depends upon whether the university's pharmacy reimbursement policy will be run down in 2017 or not," says principal Jukka Kola. "If so, that's another 30 million we will be losing."

More bleak news in Ilta-Sanomat, as the paper runs a depressing headline related to Friday's nationwide service halt: "Rainy, windy and no public transport," it reads. With thousands forced to walk or bike where they need to go tomorrow, the weather will be especially punishing, the paper says.

"We're sorry for people that it's going to be so stormy," chief shop steward Pekka Hirvonen says in IS. "It's bad news for the demonstration, too."

Meteorologist Paavo Korpela says that while temperatures will be fairly high, around 15 degrees Celsius, winds will pick up to speeds of 15 metres per second – "enough to make biking wobbly," he says.

Love and anarchy

The Social Democratic Party's little daily, Demokraatti, injects some cultural news into its look at current affairs. Today, September 17 is the start of the annual Helsinki Film Festival, known as "Love and Anarchy" and running for eleven days. The paper analyses five films from all around Northern Europe along with its prognosis on which is most likely to win the Nordic Council Film Prize.

Finnish entry He ovat paenneet ("They have escaped") by JP Valkeapää is not pegged as a top runner, while Danish veteran director Bille August's family mini-saga Silent Heart is broadly praised.

More than one hundred films will be shown between September 17-27 – check the festival's website if you're thinking about catching one of them.

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