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Tuesday's papers: Marin government news, al-Hol families, and free daycare

The installation of a new government is the main story on Tuesday.

Sanna Marin ja Antti Rinne
Sanna Marin (left) takes over as Prime Minister from Antti Rinne (right). Image: Vesa Moilanen / Lehtikuva

A new government is to be sworn in on Tuesday, and the papers are full of analysis and speculation about how it will work.

Helsingin Sanomat publishes an analysis piece suggesting that the Centre Party wants to drag the government back to the centre ground after what centre MPs felt was a leftist turn under outgoing PM Antti Rinne.

The former trade union boss had made several interventions in the labour market in support of pay demands for low-paid workers and his actions in the postal workers’ dispute eventually sparked his removal from office.

Centre politicians have often expressed this objection as a difficulty with politicians poking their noses in to issues that should be settled between unions and employers. That’s not quite the whole story, according to the HS piece.

Labour strife

"Interfering in the labour market was not a problem for the Centre Party during the last government," writes political reporter Teemu Muhonen. "Back then the Centre, as the party of the prime minister, forced through a weakening of employment conditions in the ‘competitiveness pact’ to improve the position of businesses."

Centre leader Katri Kulmuni has set her stall out as demanding measures to increase employment (code for cutting unemployment benefits), and expects incoming premier Sanna Marin to yield to her demands.

But as Marin’s own politics are probably to the left of Rinne’s, that could be a tricky negotiation. One thing that does unite the two traditional parties, writes Muhonen, is a desire to avoid fresh elections as they struggle in the polls.

Kauppalehti nails its colours to the mast, stating that Marin’s election moves the government to the left and that this will be ‘Marin’s government but Rinne’s government programme’.

That's also the basis on which the five-party coalition has agreed to continue its work.

International reach

The business daily is satisfied, however, that the labour movement’s hotline to the Prime Minister’s office will be broken, and says that might mean a calmer labour market.

The international press had plenty of coverage of Marin’s elevation, with her youth and the gender of her four female counterparts leading government parties dominating those stories.

The New York Times covered the story, as did the BBC, the Guardian, CNN and even the Daily Mail.

The Mail found its special own angle, perhaps inevitably trawling the new PM’s Instagram account for their picture-heavy story.

Marin’s impressive reach was confirmed by Soundi magazine, which got a whole article out of Rage Against the Machine singer Tom Morello’s Instagram post. Morello claimed Marin is a fan, and Soundi wondered whether this serendipitous coincidence might tempt Morello to bring the recently-reformed band to Finland for a concert.

Syrian sojourn ending for some?

In other stories, Ilta-Sanomat reports that plans to repatriate families from the al-Hol camp in Syria are at an advanced stage, with Helsinki social workers already informed about the identities of people expected to return.

The issue has been the subject of some debate, with Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto criticised by some officials in the ministry.

On Monday he was cleared by the ministry's senior civil servant of acting illegally in trying to bring the families home, but it remains unclear how active Finland can or will be in helping people return from Syria.

The IS story states that social workers are ready and prepared to respond whether people make it home under their own steam or are assisted in returning from the conflict zone.

Free daycare in Paltamo

Finland has stressed and worried about declining birth rates and a depopulated countryside, but the municipality of Paltamo in the sparsely-populated north-east has come up with a partial solution: free daycare.

Finnish families pay for daycare for children aged 0-5, but the cost is heavily-subsidised and income-linked. In Paltamo, though, it will be a nice round zero--down from up to 434 euros a month for a family with two children earning more than 4,799 euros per month.

The local council made the decision on Monday, and told local paper Kainuun Sanomat that making it free of charge was the ‘cherry on the cake’ of high-quality provision and decent facilities.

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