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Tuesday's papers: Gov't crisis deepens, Haavisto hits back, heat wave

Morning papers report that PM Rinne is demanding a clear statement of support or rejection from Centre Party partners.

 SDP:n puheenjohtaja Antti Rinne demareiden puoluetoimistolla Helsingin Hakaniemessä maanantai-iltana 2. joulukuuta.
Prime Minister Antti Rinne surrounded by reporters on Monday evening. Image: Mikko Stig / Lehtikuva

Social Democratic Prime Minister Antti Rinne told the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat late Monday night that he wants to see a written statement from the Centre Party on Tuesday, laying out the reasons it no longer has confidence in him to lead the five-party coalition government.

"Only then, when I have received a detailed written answer from the Centre, will I be able to determine what I will do," Rinne said in a telephone interview.

The Centre Party's parliamentary group and party leadership on Monday announced they had lost confidence in the PM. In his interview with Helsingin Sanomat, Rinne slammed the Centre for being too vague about its intentions.

"If I am accused of poor communication, it has to be said that the Centre has at very least set a new national record for a lack of clarity in this matter. I demand an unequivocal yes or no about whether or not we continue together, not just as political parties, but also as individuals."

Rinne declined to discuss whether or not he and his Social Democratic Party still trust the Centre and its chair Katri Kulmuni, simply stating that up until now the SDP has had no complaints about its coalition partners.

Asked if he will turn in his resignation on Tuesday, if the Centre presents clear and detailed reasons for a lack of confidence in him, Rinne gave no definitive answer.

"As I said, there must be concrete and unequivocal reasons why they feel they have no confidence in the prime minister."

"Resign or government falls"

The newsstand tabloid Ilta-Sanomat was among the papers reporting that there is building pressure within the Centre Party to oust Rinne from the premiership.

Centre Party leader Kulmuni on Monday evening did not call for Rinne's resignation, but did say that Centre Party members were not "completely convinced" by Rinne's explanation of events surrounding the recent Posti labour dispute, and that the Social Democratic Party should draw its own conclusions now.

Ilta-Sanomat presented statements from three Centre Party MPs who were more straightforward on the condition of anonymity.

The verdict of all three was that the prime minister should resign before a scheduled debate in parliament at 2pm this afternoon.

"There has been an attempt to be considerate. It is quite clear that there is no going back now - either Rinne resigns, or Rinne fights and the government falls," said one MP.

Another of the centre MPs interviewed stated that there was no desire to "publically butcher" the prime minister.

"It has been attempted to get the message across both privately and publicly. His reaction shows something about his capacity to read the situation."

The third told Ilta-Sanomat that the Centre Party strongly believes in the composition of the current coalition government and in its programme, but that it has ”the wrong skipper”.

Haavisto denies repatriation plan

Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, a member of Finland’s Green League, has denied a Monday report in the newspaper Ilta-Sanomat claiming that he ousted a top ministry civil servant from his post for refusing to take part in a plan to repatriate children of Finnish ISIS fighters being held in the al-Hol camp in Syria.

Turku's Turun Sanomat reports that later on Monday parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee asked for an explanation about the claim and Christian Democrat MP Sari Essayah filed a formal written question to be answered by the government.

Haavisto not only denied that he had pressured the ministry official, he told the media that no such plan ever existed.

"The mysterious plan in the news is a mystery to me, too. I was not involved in preparing such a plan, nor am I aware that ministry officials would have prepared such a plan," stated Haavisto.

He added that the idea itself seems strange considering that the Kurdish administration in the area does not allow families to be split up and does not allow children to travel alone.

Commenting on the claim that he had lost his temper with the head of the ministry's consular section over the matter, Haavisto said simply, "I'm not the short-tempered type."

Yes to Roma, no to Pride

Lapin Kansa reports that the city council of Rovaniemi voted on Monday to start the practice of flying the flag of the Roma people on city buildings on International Romani Day, April 8th.

At the same meeting a motion that would have also seen the rainbow flag of the sexual minorities' movement on city buildings on national Pride Day and Arctic Pride Day was narrowly defeated. In Lapin Kansa's words, "the rainbow flags will stay in the closet".

Late last month, the LGBT rights organisation SETA announced that the Arctic Pride event that has been held annually in Rovaniemi since 2013 will not take place next year. The local SETA chapter said that it has been unable to recruit enough volunteers to organize the event in 2020, but hopes it will be possible again the following year.

Heat wave coming

Iltalehti's definition of "heat wave" may not be everyone's, but the paper was excited enough about a forecast of rising temperatures this week to throw an exclamation mark into its headline.

Temperatures on Thursday and Friday this week are likely to be well above freezing again, even in Finnish Lapland.

The paper quotes Foreca meteorologist Ilkka Alanko as saying that on Friday, Independence Day, temperatures along the south coast will be 5C-6C and in central regions 2C-4C.

This warmer weather, combined with rain, will mean that at least in the south of Finland the present snow cover will melt away.

For those hankering after a white Christmas, the good news is that the "heat wave" will be short-lived. Temperatures will fall after the weekend and Finland, including southern areas, may get its snow back well before the holidays.

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