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Wednesday’s papers: Finns Party breakup, mortgage ‘holidays’, and postbox switch

Wednesday’s newspapers include stories on the fallout from the Finns Party’s acrimonious breakup, a look at Finland’s mortgage market, and news that soon posties might not make it all the way to your front door.

Some blocks of flats may adopt a new letterbox system this autumn. Image: YLE Keski-Suomi / Arvo Vuorela

It’s a big week for the populist Finns Party, who have been in the opposition since June. Their presidential candidate is set to be announced on Friday, with leader Jussi Halla-aho and Satakunta MP Laura Huhtasaari the two possibilities to take the nomination.

In advance of that, media are trying to assess the size of the breakaway ‘New Alternative’ faction. The party currently consists of 19 MPs and regional party chapters in Lapland and south-west Finland, but if it gathers the required 5,000 signatures, it will register as a party under the ‘Blue Reform’ name.

Leading broadsheet Helsingin Sanomat reports on Wednesday that after new chapters are expected in Central Finland, Uusimaa, Pirkanmaa, Oulu and Kainuu.

HS reports that the Finns Party is downplaying the significance of any possible defections, with party secretary Riikka Slunga-Poutsalo telling the paper that the number of departures is a fifth that of new recruits to the party.

KL: Take a holiday from your loans

Business daily Kauppalehti takes a look at Finland’s mortgage market, and particularly the effect of repayment holidays marketed by banks in recent years. These are periods of up to a year when people can apply to pay only the interest on their housing loans.

When interest rates are low, these holidays offer banks a chance to increase the return on low-interest loans, and offer customers a little extra cash for their month-to-month outgoings.

Mortgage bank Hypo’s chief economist Juhana Brotherus estimates that some 15 percent of mortgages in Finland have been subject to a repayment holiday in the past two years.

He says that means Finland’s mortgage market is taking a few steps towards looking like that in Sweden, where mortgage terms are generally much longer and some loans are not even paid off during the borrower’s lifetime.

With interest rates set to rise in the future, Brotherus suggests that borrowers might like to pay off their loans quicker than usual—before interest costs start rising and eating in to disposable income.

TS: New mailbox system?

Financial news site Taloussanomat has a story on a law change this autumn that will allow apartment block companies to bring in corridor-based post boxes instead of door-to-door deliveries.

The idea is that postal workers could then leave letters in boxes in the lobby of each building, rather than schlepping up and down stairs hauling the mail to each flat.

There’ll be no compulsion, however, so it remains to be seen how many buildings voluntarily give up their rights to deliveries through each home’s letterbox.

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