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Tuesday's papers: Bourse Club bother, Väyrynen's return and speed limit slowdown

Newspapers on Tuesday include reports on a men-only club's disputed rules, the ever-lasting career of a political icon, and reassurance for speedy drivers.

Helsingin pörssitalo.
Helsinki Bourse Club is situated in the centre of the city. Image: Tiina Jutila / Yle

Helsinki's Bourse Club (Pörssklubi in Finnish) has been going strong since 1910, offering a place for gentlemen to discuss their investments and holdings over a good meal, a cigar and perhaps a decent scotch. The emphasis is on the 'men', however, as the club refuses to admit women and voted this week to maintain that rule.

That decision prompted widespread criticism, and on Monday Kauppalehti reported that the club's landlord announced it was reviewing the terms of its tenancy. The current lease runs out in 2020, and the CEO of the Finnish Foundation for Share Promotion (Finnish name Pörssisäätiö) Sari Lounasmeri says that the conditions will be reviewed.

"The Bourse Club has a long-term lease, and when it ends in 2020 we will look at the conditions again," said Lounasmeri. "That's clear. The club owns some of its premises. The club's name is misleading, as investing is for everyone."

The club's 'reciprocal' club in London, the Savile Club, voted this month to allow a transgender member to stay on after she transitions to live as a woman. The justification in that case was that the member had joined as a man and an expulsion on the grounds that she was now a woman would be unfair. Women are still not allowed to apply to join the club.

Return of the MEP

Paavo Väyrynen, a veteran Eurosceptic politician from the northern region of Keminmaa, has been looking for support for his candidacy in the next presidential election. This is no simple matter, as he resigned from the Centre Party he has served (or has served him, depending who you ask), for decades.

He remains an MEP, is still popular in the Centre's agrarian heartlands and he is keen to try and repeat his performance the last Presidential election when, as the Centre candidate, he came third in the first round with 17.53 percent of the vote.

He needs 20,000 supporter 'cards', and two weeks ago held a press conference announcing that he expected to fall short. The media, always happy to report on and add to a bit of Väyrynen drama, led with the news that Väyrynen was in trouble. There followed a blitzkrieg campaign to gather signatures including wraparound ads in national and local newspapers and postage-paid forms for people to declare their support--and now Väyrynen has 15,000 supporters signed up with more than two weeks to go till the deadline.

A comment piece in Helsingin Sanomat asks whether Väyrynen may have had support for this expensive campaign. Campaign staff remained tight-lipped on the details, even claiming that sales of commemorative mugs featuring Väyrynen and his wife had been a factor in the budget.

Defensive stances

Meanwhile the presidential candidates already in the race took part in an election debate hosted by an association for alumni of an annual course offered by the Finnish Defence Forces to people in leadership positions in civil society. As you might expect, defence questions were high on the agenda in the reporting of the debate.

Helsingin Sanomat led with the implications of the EU's Lisbon Treaty, which includes an obligation to assist EU members militarily if they request it. The candidates were asked if they would assist an EU ally if there was a chance of losing the conflict.

The SDP's Tuula Haatainen, the Greens' Pekka Haavisto, Sauli Niinistö (who is nominated this time by a voters' association) and the Centre's Matti Vanhanen all said clearly that they would send help even if victory was not assured.

Leftist Merja Kyllönen said that the President should in the first instance try to avoid any conflicts by maintaining good relations with neighbours, Nils Torvalds said that enthusiasm for such interventions would wane once Finnish soldiers started dying, while Finns Party candidate Laura Huhtasaari claimed the EU does not follow its own rules, emphasised good relations with Russia but also demanded Finland start using land mines again.

Speeding lenience

Ilta-Sanomat startled some motorists on Monday morning with a shouty headline suggesting that the Transport Ministry was about to change the law to allow speeding fines for drivers who exceed limits by as little as 1km/h, above an article about whether speedometers in cars can be trusted and a poll asking the same question.

That's not the full story, however. Police can already fine people for slight infractions of the speeding rules. That they do not is a matter of internal police guidelines, not legislation.

Yesterday Transport Minister Anne Berner took to Twitter to correct the story (or 'calm the online conversation' as IS put it). She also linked to her own tweets from May and July pointing out that the new legislation won't change the threshold for punishing motorists.

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