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Thursday's papers: Tricky government formation talks, church exodus and multilingual Helsinki

The SDP faces rocky government formation talks, half of the capital's residents have left the church and one in five Helsinki kids speak a foreign language.

Lapsia piirissä lattialla opetushetkessä, keskellä muovisia ruokatarpeita
Image: Saila Sarre

Business magazine Talouselämä reports that government formation talks will begin next week with SDP chair Antti Rinne sending a questionnaire to political parties. The Social Democrats want to know the parties' stance on issues such as the economy, climate and energy policy.

As the biggest party in the election, the SDP will take the lead on government formation talks, though it will face pressure as it only gained one more seat in the new legislature than the Finns Party and two more than the National Coalition Party, writes TE.

Talouselämä predicts that the Social Democrats will partner with the National Coalition party, though the NCP is likely to stick firmly to its election programme, which could prove troublesome for the SDP.

Yle News' podcast All Points North released an episode on Wednesday that examines how party negotiations might play out, and which parties might ascend to government in the coming weeks.

Church losing appeal

Ahead of the Easter holiday, national daily Helsingin Sanomat reports that the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church continues to lose members. Around 52 percent of Helsinki residents now belong to the church, down from some 62 percent in 2010.

Helsinki has seven parishes in which fewer than half of residents belong to the church. HS noted that many newcomers to Finland have no connection with the state church.

Sakari Enrold, rector of Kannelmäki parish in Helsinki, said the downward trend was likely to continue, but that a "global catastrophe could encourage people to seek solace in churches."

Leavers include people who find the church too conservative as well as those considering it too liberal on issues such as gender-neutral marriage.

Multilingual kids enhance peer communication

HS reports that some 20 percent of under school-age children in Helsinki speak a native language other than Finnish, Swedish or Sami.

Families’ home languages, however, vary greatly by district. In Länsi-Pakila, northern Helsinki, Finland's domestic languages are the native tongue of 98 percent of kids, but the same is true for just 44 percent of children living in Kallahti in the east of the city.

Helsinki estimates that by 2025, nearly a quarter of kids in daycare will speak a language other than Finnish or Swedish at home.

Satu Koistinen, an educational expert with the city, said that polyglot immigrant-background kids are helping stave off the erosion of the Finnish language thanks to their linguistic agility which rubs off on their peers.

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