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Tuesday's papers: Blue Reform's cold reception, construction merger and euro draw

Tuesday's papers include a welter of stories on Timo Soini's new grouping in parliament, a merger of two giants in the Finnish building trade, and the draw for Finnish football teams playing in European competition this summer.

Perussuomalaisista uuteen ryhmään irtautuneita kansanedustajia.
The Blue Reform group in parliament arrives for a press conference on 13 June. Image: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva

A week is a long time in politics, and for some Finnish MPs the last three weeks have included three different political identities. First they were Finns Party legislators, before leaving when their new hard right leader Jussi Halla-aho was deemed unfit for government by their coalition partners. The breakaway was christened New Alternative, but that name lasted for just one week before on Monday they settled on Blue Reform*.

Monday was their big day when the Sipilä government presented its resolution of the crisis caused by Halla-aho's elevation. Only Ilta-Sanomat and others had their doubts that it was any kind of crisis at all. An article in Lännen Media publications had accurately predicted the Soini defection in early June, and the government hopes the new grouping will simply continue as before, minus some 17 loyalist Finns Party MPs.

An angry column in Ilta-Sanomat describes it as a "worthless exhibition", while Helsingin Sanomat reports MPs comments from the debate. Juha Sipilä denied there was any planning afoot before the Finns Party changed leader, while Leftist opposition leader Li Andersson suggested the only goal of the group was to allow Soini to continue as a minister and asked "could politics be any more cynical?".

HS also noted the new party's difficulties in securing its digital territory. The domain name sininentulevaisuus.com currently redirects to the centre-right National Coalition page, suggesting that the new faction haven't quite managed to get all their ducks in a row.

Building giant formed

There's one big story in the business pages on Tuesday, the news that construction companies YIT and Lemminkäinen are to merge. Kauppalehti reports that their combined turnover last year was 3.4 billion euros, split equally, but KL reports that Lemminkäinen shareholders will get a better price than the firm's share price would suggest.

The new firm will be known as YIT, with 60 percent of the stock held by YIT shareholders and 40 percent by Lemminkäinen owners. Lemminkäinen has been in poor financial shape, with CEO Casimir Lindholm apparently turning the firm around since he took over in 2014.

The deal will be referred to the Finnish competition regulator, but Aamulehti's lead story is -- somewhat confusingly -- that the new firm will 'revitalise' competition in the building trade in Tampere. The Pirkanmaa daily asks Jukka Terhonen, a construction industry veteran who has worked for both firms and now serves on the board of the Tampere tram company, what he thinks.

Terhonen claims the new company will find efficiencies and thereby force competitiors to get leaner and meaner, and that the bigger firm will not have greater negotiating power in relation to public sector customers such as the tram operator on whose board he serves. It does, however, 'remain to be seen', said Terhonen.

Euro glory?

Monday saw the day of destiny for Finnish football clubs in Europe this year, as they found out who they'd be playing this summer. In the Europa League HJK drew Connah's Quay Nomads, a Welsh team that is not really on the radar of Finnish football journalists but is at least, according to IS, a relatively easier Welsh place name. At least compared to Llanfairpwllgwyngyll.

SJK will play Icelandic club KR Reykjavik, while VPS drew Olimpija Ljubljana. In the Champions League, Ålanders IFK Mariehamn get to take on Polish champions Legia Warsaw, who include Finnish forward Kasper Hämäläinen. IFK captain Jani Lyyski told IS that he hoped he'd at least get to tackle his compatriot properly once, but the draw wasn't good as Legia are a quality outfit.

IS reports that the home leg in Mariehamn is likely to be sold out in the near future, with just 1,600 tickets available.

* Blue Reform is not a direct translation of their Finnish title, Sininen Tulevaisuus, which would more accurately correspond to 'Blue Future', but the rebels have made it known the official English name is Blue Reform.

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