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Thursday's papers: Uninspiring election, another airport close call, possible surcharges on post from China

A number of Finnish newspapers on Thursday reviewed the ongoing presidential election, with experts expressing surprise at how very low key campaigns have been.

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Image: Derrick Frilund / Yle

Finland's largest circulation daily, Helsingin Sanomat, surveyed several communications professionals about how well presidential candidates have been getting their message across to voters.

One feature that has surprised many is that campaigns have made far less use of social media than had been expected.

Taru Tujunen, the CEO of the marketing and communications agency Ellun Kanat and former National Coalition Party secretary, noted that "algorithms and social media" in recent years have "won bigger elections".

"An effective online campaign means buying visibility for messages aimed at a very specific target group. Now, this online advertising has been very general," she told Helsingin Sanomat.

Author and journalist Jussi Lähde described the campaigns being run by the candidates as "pitifully old fashioned".

"This is not good for democracy," Lähde added. "Campaigns should improve from election to election."

Helsingin Sanomat writes that political party identification has also been pushed into the background. The incumbent, President Sauli Niinistö is a good example of this, it says. A former member of the National Coalition Party, this time he is running as the candidate of a voters' association and is looking to gather support across party lines.

According to Taru Tujunen, there has always been some kind of phenomenon in every election that has polarized debate and the field of candidates.

"Now," she said, "This phenomenon is the incumbent's high popularity and that polarization is missing."

Today's Rovaniemi-based Lapin Kansa carries a syndicated review of the election campaign which says that the single dominate issue has been Nato, while any debate of values has played a minor role.

On this subject, the paper quoted Markku Jokisipilä, who heads the parliamentary research centre at the University of Turku.

"If someone set a stopwatch to time every debate and how much was devoted to Nato it would be a surprising amount. Nato has been debated in Finland ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The discussion has moved ahead inch by inch."

Jokisipilä feels that the election debates have brought some more clarity about the possibility of Nato membership for Finland.

"The incumbent, Sauli Niinistö, has stated that Nato membership will become topical if EU membership does not ensure security. Niinistö hasn't said this before."

Another airport incident

On Tuesday, there was an incident at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport when air traffic controllers authorised a passenger plane to approach the takeoff strip while there were three runway maintenance vehicles on it at the time.

The tabloid Iltalehti today reports that an investigation has been launched into a second potentially dangerous incident at the same airport on Wednesday when a private jet rolled out onto a runway without authorisation as a Finnair flight was making a landing approach. Air traffic controllers stopped the small jet and ordered the Finnair flight to pull up. The airliner was approximately one mile from the airport at the time.

A review of flight recorders by investigators has been started.

Surcharges on Chinese post?

An upswing in online purchases from Chinese retailers is costing the Finnish postal service millions of euros, reports Ilta-Sanomat.

Ilta-Sanomat reports that in Sweden, the Postnord logistics company has already imposed a surcharge on packages from China and Finland's postal service has indicated that something has to be done about the situation here as well.

Kaj Kulp of Finland's Post told the paper that last year around 15 million pieces of mail from China arrived in the country as letters. Most were actually small, irregularly shaped packages from online retailers such as Wish and AliExpress.

Although the postal service has not released exact figures, according to Kulp, handling this flood of mail is causing millions in losses. He added that at the moment there are no concrete plans to impose a surcharge on the packages.

Instead, right now, the postal service is keeping an eye on developments on the EU level. One upcoming change is the elimination of a waiver of VAT payments on the shipment of goods valued under 22 euros.

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