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Wednesday's papers: Opposition comes out swinging, ankle monitors for rejected asylum seekers, trust in news

Finland's print press analyses fireworks in Parliament, a gov't bid to expand ankle monitor use and Finnish trust in the media as a source of news.

Valvontarangaistusta kärsivää valvotaan sähköisellä jalkapannalla.
An ankle monitor in use in Finland. Image: Isto Janhunen / Yle

The capital city daily Helsingin Sanomat starts out the day with an analysis of the parliamentary floor debate between Prime Minister Antti Rinne and National Coalition Party chair Petteri Orpo in yesterday's plenary session. The paper says the reasons why the centre-right NCP was left out of the new left-leaning government were made clear after Orpo repeatedly questioned the financial sustainably of the incoming coalition's agenda.

"The NCP didn't fit in because we refused to fall for this huge bluff," Orpo reportedly said, criticizing the Social Democratic premier for a government programme that adds to the deficit and "showers money on more than a hundred different targets".

Rinne said that his government aims to create 60,000 new jobs that will strengthen the economy and make it possible to fund the "necessary added expenditures", therefore creating what he calls "social sustainability". The paper says Orpo was visibly irritated during the lengthy exchange, while Rinne remained calm.

The Finns Party, now the largest opposition party in Finland, in turn criticized the government's plans to add several more ministerial assistant positions and increase development assistance levels, HS reports. The populist party was also critical of agenda policies that would make housing costs and car use more expensive.

"You, dear government, are leading Finland along the path to destruction, in direct defiance of the people's wishes," Ville Tavio, the parliamentary chair of the Finns Party said on Tuesday.

Debate of the government programme continues Wednesday. Parliament will hold a vote on the plan on Thursday, and since Rinne's five-party coalition enjoys a comfortable majority the programme is expected to pass.

Taken by the ankles

The Tampere-based newspaper Aamulehti looks at the new government's plan to extend the use of ankle monitors to persons who have received negative asylum decisions in Finland.

Criminal Sanctions Agency (Rise) senior specialist Pia Andersson tells the paper that if this added electronic monitoring is added to the responsibilities of the agency "it would require legislation granting that power and additional resources to manage it." The government programme proposes expanding the use of ankle monitors as a more-liberating alternative to detention that is nevertheless appropriate to safeguard public safety. The monitor is connected to a device in the person's home that tracks their coming and going. Any deviations from approved routines are then reported to Rise's national monitoring system.

Ankle monitors can also be linked to GPS devices for clear monitoring of the wearers' location at all times, the paper writes. Trips outside of an approved area, for example, trigger an alarm, as does any attempt to remove the device.

Top levels of trust again

And the Lahti-based paper Etelä-Suomen Sanomat contains a story on how Finland came out on top once again in an international survey of 38 countries' trust in the news media. The 2019 Digital News Report from Reuters Institute found that 59 percent of Finnish residents say that they can trust Finnish news sources.

"This is probably due to the Finns’ general trust in social institutions and the fact that the mainstream news media are not politically divided. It seems, though, that even in Finland things are slowly changing. Overall trust in the news is now down nine percentage points from 2015, though trust in ‘news I consume’ dropped only 2 percentage points," University of Tampere researcher Esa Reunanen says.

This year's survey also suggests that more than half of Finland's residents regularly get their news online. Some 62 percent report using smartphones to access news on a weekly basis, while 43 percent say mobiles are their main devices for accessing news content, up from 39 percent last year. Further, 39 percent indicated they access news from social media feeds.

The report ranks the weekly reach of Finland's news agencies, with public broadcaster Yle on top in the category of TV, radio and print outlets, while tabloid papers Ilta-Sanomat and Iltalehti are the most widely used sources for online news.

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