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Wednesday’s papers: Cabinet reshuffle, real estate and business boom, slippery roads on summer tyres

Midweek editions of Finland’s newspapers offer a smattering of politics, business, human interest – and intersections of the three.

Toimittaja kokeili renkaanvaihtoa nainen renkaanvaihto
Might want to wait before switching to summer tyres... Image: Riika Raitio / Yle

Most papers lead off with reviews of decisions made by Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s three-party government as it met for its midterm conference on Tuesday.

The tabloid Ilta-Sanomat starts with the headline “This is how the Sipilä government’s new decisions will change your daily life: housing subsidies, daycare fees, unemployment...” It then sums them up by saying: “Carrots promised for families, sticks for the unemployed.” IS then runs down about 25 areas where laws will change if the plan is approved by Parliament.

IL: Cabinet without legal expertise

Rival tabloid Iltalehti meanwhile leads off with Sipilä’s decision to expand the cabinet by adding three new ministers.

The weighty Justice Ministry portfolio will be shifted from the Finns Party to the conservative National Coalition Party. It is now held by the Finns Party’s Jari Lindström, a former papermaker who also now serves as labour minister.

Besides a brief period in the last decade, this is the first Finnish cabinet not to include any lawyers. It has come under fire from the Association of Finnish Lawyers and others for poorly-drafted legislation, some of which has had to be reworded or rescinded due to constitutionality concerns.

As consolation, the populist Finns Party will be handed the less-demanding portfolios of culture and sports, as well as European affairs. Sipilä’s own rural-based Centre Party will split up the agriculture and environmental portfolios, which are both now held by Kimmo Tiilikainen. Sipilä says the new ministers will be named “as soon as possible”, perhaps even this week.

KL: Green shoots in real estate, forest industry

The business daily Kauppalehti unveils bullish news from the real estate front, with sales of residential plots of land up 60 percent from three years earlier. There is a particularly hot market in land designated for blocks of flats, according to the National Land Survey of Finland. They are now being sold at a faster pace than even during the pre-recession peak year of 2006. Altogether residential land purchases totalled nearly a billion euros last year.

KL's front page also reports on improved results and forecasts for two industrial giants: UPM, best known as a papermaker, and Metso, which makes heavy machinery for the forest products industry among others. Meanwhile chemical manufacturer Kemira's sales slumped in the first quarter, so some sectors are clearly still waiting for clear signs of a recovery.

LK: Student entrepreneurs in Lapland

Meanwhile Rovaniemi-based daily Lapin Kansa carries a lighter business story about students from the Lapland University of Applied Sciences who have set up a pop up firm to change car tyres. The nine students have been installing customers' summer tyres in the parking garage of the Rajalla shopping mall. They will resume doing so on May 3-5 after taking a break to celebrate May Day – known here as Vappu and a major party weekend for university students in particular. However drivers who have not yet done so may want to hold off on switching to summer rubber. On Wednesday meteorologists and traffic officials warn of slippery roads due to snow or sleet through most of the country, especially in eastern areas.

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