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Tuesday's papers: Paavo's plans, political polling and self-harm in reception centres

Tuesday's press includes more fallout from Sunday's presidential election, a new poll on party support, and a look at self-harm in asylum reception centres.

Sauli Niinistö
Sauli Niinistö Image: Vesa Moilanen / Lehtikuva

Reaction to Sunday's presidential election still dominates the press on Tuesday, with Sauli Niinistö's historic landslide win reshaping the political map. One big question mark is Paavo Väyrynen, the former Centre Party bigwig who launched his own Citizens Party and then ran for president as an independent.

He did relatively well too, beating the Centre's own candidate Matti Vanhanen and gaining 6.2 percent of the vote. That strengthens Väyrynen's hand in his seemingly endless battle for political power.

Helsingin Sanomat reminds readers that Väyrynen has still not formally left the Centre, despite appeals for him to do so: he can only be kicked out by his local Keminmaa branch, and he keeps a tight rein on what goes on there. So Juha Sipilä's announcement that he would seek re-election as Centre Party chair was, according to HS, an attempt to quell speculation about the return of Väyrynen.

New wave Väyrynen

Väyrynen's plans were also examined with a fine-tooth comb. He said on election night that he would start campaigning for the next parliamentary elections, and is even aiming for twenty seats. The party is primarily a Väyrynen vehicle and is therefore made in his own image: Eurosceptic, anti-Nato, and a strong advocate for sparsely-populated rural regions and especially the north.

Helsingin Sanomat's editorial takes a look at the campaign's effect on Finnish political culture. As the link between party and candidate has weakened (with two candidates effectively shedding their party branding and hoovering up nearly 70 percent of the vote), the next presidential election in six years' time could see stronger personalities come to the forefront, as opposed to party hacks.

Meanwhile Iltalehti carries a poll testing party support in the wake of an election campaign in which parties were largely irrelevant. It shows a slight dip in SDP support, a slight uptick in National Coalition backing, and a boost in support for both the Green Party and Blue Reform, the splinter group that broke away from the Finns Party last summer.

Asylum self-harm

HS follows up on the news that an asylum seeker had died at the detention unit at Joutseno reception centre on Monday with a look at the broader statistics on self-harm at such centres. The paper found that in 2017, the Immigration Service received more than 700 reports of self-harm, threatened self-harm or suicide concerns.

That is well up on the figure for 2016, when around 140 similar reports were made. Campaigners claim that residents at the Metsälä and Joutseno detention units find it very difficult to see a doctor to have their concerns dealt with. Reception centre workers share similar concerns about mental health issues.

"On a general level I can say that, whether asylum seekers are in detention or not, depression is widespread," said Jari Kähkönen, who heads up the Joutseno centre.

Asylum seekers are moved to detention units prior to deportation if their claims are rejected.

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