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Wednesday's papers: Advance voting begins, Rinne's potential coalition partners, ethics codes

The press talks about the start of advance voting in the parliamentary elections, SDP picks for the next ruling coalition, and no ethics codes in Finnish firms.

SDP:n puheenjohtaja Antti Rinne
Antti Rinne may decide on the next government if the SDP wins the largest share of votes on 14 April. Image: Jari Kovalainen / Yle

Daily Helsingin Sanomat reports that advance voting in the parliamentary elections begins on Wednesday. In Finland, voters will be able to cast their ballot in advance until 9 April at any advance voting station in the country or abroad. Outside of Finland, however, the advance voting period is shorter, as it ends on 6 April.

The paper offers some advice to prospective voters. Some form of photo ID such as a valid passport or driver's license is required at the polling station. Voters must go alone into the booth to mark their ballot. Children are allowed to accompany adults, but not dogs.

Write only the candidate's number on the ballot, nothing else – or your vote may be rejected. HS also advises voters to write sevens with a line in the middle, as is the custom in parts of Europe and Latin America, to distinguish them from the number one. If you make a mistake, do not cross it out; ask for a new ballot instead.

The official Election Day is on 14 April. On this day, voters must go to the appointed polling station stated on the ballot paper they should have received in the post. A justice ministry representative tells the paper that this is because election officials wish to count the number of votes cast at each station. Although in Finland the results are usually quite clear already by 10 pm on Election Day, official election results won't be confirmed until 17 April.

The newly-elected Finnish Parliament will begin its work after the Easter holiday, on Tuesday, 23 April.

Either NCP or Centre, with a side of Greens

Business weekly Talouselämä interviews Social Democratic Party (SDP) chair Antti Rinne, whose party has been consistently out in front in recent voter opinion polls. If his party wins the highest proportional number of seats on 14 April, Rinne will be in charge of putting together the next coalition government to rule the country for the next four years.

Talouselämä asks him the question that is on many peoples' minds: Who does he plan to ask to join the SDP in government, if the party emerges a clear winner at the polls?

"I believe that if we are in government, then either the National Coalition Party (NCP) or the Centre Party would also be there. In addition, it looks quite clear that the Greens will be in the government. And then, if what I heard in Li's [Andersson] Yle interview is true, the Left Alliance's stance has changed a bit, and they would also join, if the NCP does not hold the prime minister position," Rinne told the paper.

Rinne stresses that SDP success on 14 April is not a foregone conclusion, however. Talouselämä says he has reason to be cautious, as SDP voters are notoriously unreliable about showing up to vote. The publication points out that the Social Democrats also led public opinion polls in the 2017 municipal elections, but when the results were tallied, the NCP came out on top.

Talouselämä says that even if Rinne were to win a mandate from the people, government formation is no easy task in Finland, nor is working with it once it has been created. It writes that every government in the last 16 years has suffered from "in-fighting or prime minister problems". The last government to serve out an entire term was Paavo Lipponen's coalition in 1999-2003, although the Greens walked out of that coalition before the term was out.

Only one in three firms have ethical guidelines

And the southwest newspaper Turun Sanomat writes about inadequate ethical guidelines in Finnish companies.

A Nordic Business Ethics Survey from early 2019 comparing Finland, Sweden and Norway has determined that only 35 percent of Finnish companies have ethical guidelines in place, compared to 69 percent of Norwegian companies and 64 percent of Swedish companies.

The group behind the survey was shocked to see how many workers in Finland had no idea if their company even had a code of conduct. If they knew of one, they did not know its content, TS writes. The survey also discovered a paucity of training in this area, with only one-third of respondents saying they had participated in a company function in which these matters were outlined.

The survey also found that 28 percent of respondents in Finland did not know the procedure for reporting unethical practices in line with organisational guidelines. The paper suggests that this is a worrying phenomenon in light of recent impropriety in the financial sector, for example.

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