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Wednesday's papers: Advance voting, Espoo blamed and a new boss at the book fair

Wednesday's newspapers include stories on advance voting in the presidential election, the fuss over the Metro in Espoo, and a new head of Helsinki Book Fair.

Presidentinvaalien äänestyslipuke.
Advance voting starts on Wednesday. Image: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva

Wednesday sees the start of advance voting in Finland's upcoming presidential election, and all the papers have useful reminders on how to cast your ballot. Voting is open to Finnish citizens, and those citizens resident in Finland can vote at any of the advance polling stations open across the country from Wednesday.

Aamulehti has an extensive guide to voting, including a list of dos and don'ts. Voters must have identification, meaning a passport, driving license, Kela card with a picture or a police-issued ID card. If a voter has none of those, they can obtain a temporary ID card from the police, valid during the election period, for the purposes of voting. This is free of charge but requires two passport photos.

Numbers on ballot papers should be written clearly, and any other markings that appear risk invalidating the ballot. During advance voting, ballots can be cast at any polling station, but if voting on the day of the election itself voters must head to their allocated polling station. There's a list of all advance voting places here, Yle's guide to the election is here, and our political compass allowing you to compare your views to the candidates' is here.

Metro row rumbles on

Although it is the national newspaper of record, Helsingin Sanomat is also the local paper of the capital city region. That ensures it retains a 'city' section devoted to covering the Helsinki area, and in recent weeks it has been dominated by back and forth over the extension of the Helsinki Metro.

The problem is broadly that the direct bus lines from southern Espoo to Helsinki have all stopped, to be replaced by services funnelling passengers into Metro stations. That has lengthened journey times. Metro capacity is also regarded as a problem, especially at peak periods, but the extension does appear to have reduced car journeys.

On Wednesday the paper publishes an 'analysis' piece titled you get what you pay for, reminding Espoo residents that their elected representatives have repeatedly tightened proposed budgets for the Metro and for public transport in general, and that now shows in the mildly chaotic and ponderous journeys many in south Espoo have to make.

The piece points out that Metro platforms in Espoo are shorter than originally planned, at the insistence of Espoo's local politicians. They also sent back plans for connecting bus lines twice until they were satisfied, and they have made unrealistic demands for cheaper travel bands in Espoo without offering to pay for the loss in ticket revenues.

The article notes that Vantaa suffered similar issues when the Ring Rail Line was opened, connecting the airport and many northern suburbs to the rail network--but in Vantaa politicians realised they'd have to shell out more money to subsidise transport even when the municipal budget was strained.

New head of Helsinki book fair

Several papers pick up an STT report that 24-year-old author Ronja Salmi has been named head of programme at Helsinki Book fair, an annual trade fair for the publishing industry and the biggest of its kind in Finland.

Helsingin Sanomat notes that her age marks her out as an exception, as her male predecessors are now aged 48 and 70. Salmi had previously produced the fair's programme for young people though, and her workrate is emphasised in an interview with HS.

She's published five books, worked as a presenter on children's and young people's television programmes, and runs her own social media agency. She also writes a column for Helsingin Sanomat and has had to turn down several offers of work that would clash with the book fair planning.

This year's 'theme country' at the book fair is the United States, but that was decided several years in advance. Salmi says she'd love to invite the novelist Siri Hustvedt, and that the children's programme offers something for every age group, "from five-year-olds to fifth-graders" to ensure that young people get the habit of reading.

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