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Wednesday's papers: Gov't "confidence crisis", carbon neutral cities and Pirkanmaa's employment boom

Wednesday's papers have stories on defections in parliament, criticism of urban councils' dreams of carbon neutrality, and a spike in employment in Pirkanmaa

Sinisten puheenjohtaja Sampo Terho kuvattuna tiedotustilaisuudessa eduskunnassa Helsingissä 24. huhtikuuta 2018.
Blue Reform party leader Sampo Terho at a press conference in Helsinki 24 April 2018. Image: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva

Tuesday saw Kaj Turunen defect from the Blue Reform group in parliament to the National Coalition caucus, setting off an hour or two of speculation about relations between the government partners. That speculation soon died down, after an emergency meeting of the Blue Reform board decided that actually the party would stay in government even though they were rather cross with their NCP partners.

Ilta-Sanomat carries quotes from party leader Sampo Terho through the day, indicating that at first he considered leaving government but then changed his mind, but is still pondering whether he can trust his NCP colleagues.

"How can you trust a government partner that sits with you in a meeting in the morning and takes care of business as if it was any other day, without saying anything," Terho asked in the evening. "It is really difficult to go forward when you experience that kind of behaviour."

Iltalehti reported the party's parliamentary group chair Simon Elo as justifying their decision to continue in government based on positive employment news, claiming that some 90,000 jobs would not have been created if the government had fallen last summer when Jussi Halla-aho was elected Finns Party leader, there was a government crisis and the Blue Reform faction split off.

Ostrobothnian paper Ilkka reported that Prime Minister Juha Sipilä was taking no chances, however, and planned to open discussions with the Swedish People's Party and Christian Democrats over the government's flagship reform of health and social care. Those two opposition parties have a similar vision to the government, according to Sipilä, and might be persuaded to vote for the package to shore up support.

NCP MP Elina Lepomäki has already said she will vote against the reform, and Harry Harkimo, who defected from the NCP to sit as an independent last week, is also highly sceptical of the new law.

Carbon neutrality pans under fire

Several Finnish cities have declared targets for a carbon neutral future, with Turku the latest to set a date for balancing the carbon account. Helsingin Sanomat takes a critical look at the trend, suggesting that cities probably can't take up the slack when national governments fail to act.

The paper asks Seppo Junnila and Sanna Ala-Mantila, researchers from Aalto University, to examine Helsinki's plan to reach a carbon neutral situation. They had several criticisms. Firstly, the plan excludes two thirds of the city's carbon footprint, focusing only on emissions that occur within the city limits. That means they have a lot on transport but little on food production, for example.

Helsinki's direct powers to affect external emissions is limited, they acknowledge, but municipalities and local governments could instead offer considerably more information than they do at the moment. That would be one concrete way to influence consumption, with residents offered a carbon analysis of different choices they might make in their daily lives and encouraged to choose the option with the lowest carbon 'price'.

Pirkanmaa employment improvement

Tampere paper Aamulehti trumpets its home region's success in fighting unemployment, with Pirkanmaa as a whole now reducing unemployment rates to 10 percent, the same as the country as a whole. The story follows the announcement on Tuesday of a nationwide rise in employment figures.

This is a big boost for Pirkanmaa, which had previously suffered from high unemployment. The jewel in the region's crown is the small south-western town of Punkalaidun, which in March had just 52 unemployed jobseekers--down from 124 last year.

That equates to an unemployment rate of just 4.3 percent, equivalent to full employment according to experts asked by AL.

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