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Thursday's papers: Sleeper agent as president, space rock, Finnair's share price jump and vanishing farms

Our paper review this Thursday looks at a proposal to change the rule on president's citizenship, an asteroid skimming past the Earth, a huge increase in Finnair's stock price as well as concerns that the number of Finnish farms will halve by 2025.

Presidential elections will take place in January 2018. Image: Jyrki Lyytikkä / Yle

The tabloid Iltasanomat reports on a squabble between two MPs about the proposal to change the citizenship requirement of the Finnish President. Last month Social Democrat Pilvi Torsti proposed that Finland's constitution be modified to give all Finnish nationals the right to stand for election to the country’s highest office.

Currently, only Finland-born citizens are permitted to do so.

"Our legislation must not discriminate. Equality and opportunity belong to everybody", Torsti said on Wednesday.

In contrast, Laura Huhtasaari of the Finns Party, herself a candidate in next year’s presidential election, said the constitutional change would open the door to "sleeper agents", who may act in another nation’s interest. Huhtasaari also said that the citizenship rule, which also exists in the US and Estonia, is a tradition with a symbolic value.

However, Torsti retorted by saying that tradition is a poor argument for upholding the requirement, which has already been abolished for all other high offices in Finland, including that of the prime minister. If passed, the change in Constitution would become effective for the 2024 presidential election, the paper writes.

Asteroid flies by

Meanwhile, Helsingin Sanomat informs us that a house-sized asteroid swept by the Earth on Thursday morning, providing scientists with an opportunity to test a planetary defence system. Asteroid 2012 TC4 will pass safely at a distance of approximately 44,000 km, just above the satellite altitude, at about 8.41 am Finnish time.

While it may have been be difficult for amateur astronomers to detect, an asteroid whizzing by that close will help researchers to confirm the accuracy of their estimates about the space rock’s size and course. HS says according to NASA no asteroid is expected to crash into the earth within the next 100 years.

Finnair shares skyrocket

In financial news, Kauppalehti reports that Finnair is the only company listed on the Helsinki Stock Exchange that has managed to grow its share price more than 100 percent this year.

Stock in the Finnish airline rose 175 percent from the start of January to 11 October, Kauppalehti says. In comparison, there are seven companies listed in Sweden, whose share value has more than doubled. Investors seem most interested in health technology and gaming stocks, which have seen the steepest rise during 2017.

Farmers quitting in hordes

Finally, Maaseudun Tulevaisuus is concerned about a forecast by the Natural Resources Institute (Luke), which sees 40,000 farms disappearing from Finland within 25 years. Of the 78,000 farms that existed in 2000, Luke predicts that only 37,000 will remain in 2025.

According to the report, pork farms would experience the most drastic drop of 85 percent to just 450 farms in 2025. While this year’s poor harvest may impact farmers’ outlook, in fact "the decision to quit is made in the long term and not taken easily," says Arto Latukka, researcher at Luke.

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