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Wednesday's papers: Power shift in DC, Finns Party top poll, traditional winter sports return

Midweek papers weigh issues such as a populist party's popularity, the US inauguration and outdoor physical education.

Lapset pelaavat jääkiekkoa järven jäällä
Some school kids are glad that this winter's weather is allowing more traditional outdoor sports during physical education classes, reports Aamulehti. Image: Henna Jurvelin

Most Finnish newspapers lead with eyes on Washington and coverage of Wednesday’s handover of power from President Donald Trump to Joe Biden, who is to be sworn in around 7pm Finnish time.

The largest-circulation broadsheet, Helsingin Sanomat, leads off with Trump’s pardon of his former campaign chair Steve Bannon, following the pardon of another ex-campaign chief, Paul Manafort, last month. The paper also reports that the outgoing president is considering the establishment of a new political party. In a farewell video released overnight, Trump said that "the movement we started is only just beginning".

Meanwhile HS looks at the multiple crises facing the incoming Biden administration. It quotes professor emeritus Markku Henriksson of the University of Helsinki, who says that Biden takes office in an "extremely exceptional situation".

Besides the pandemic and other crises, the new leader faces fierce opposition from "some 30 million Trump supporters who still believe that the election was stolen" – some of whom are prepared to commit violence, Henriksson warns.

Nationalist party back on top

Turning to domestic politics, the newspaper unveils its latest party poll, which suggests that the opposition Finns Party has once again become the nation’s most popular. The nationalist party has edged past Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s Social Democratic Party, but its lead of two tenths of a percentage point is not statistically significant.

In third is the opposition National Coalition Party, followed by the Centre and the Greens, whose support rose by nearly a percentage point. The top five parties were ranked in the same order in a recent Yle poll.

AL: Older workers, outdoor sports

The biggest provincial daily, Aamulehti, leads its front page with the domestic economy, specifically older workers. The Tampere paper notes that the government decided last weekend to phase out the so-called 'pension pipeline,' an enhanced unemployment benefits scheme for older workers. AL points out that this places a greater responsibility on municipalities to try to find work for unemployed people over the age of 57.

Also on Aamulehti's front page are smiling schoolboys who are playing ice hockey and glad that this winter’s weather is allowing more traditional outdoor winter sports during physical education classes after several mild winters.

MT: Excellent logging weather

Meanwhile the main rural newspaper, Maaseudun Tulevaisuus, reports that the crisp winter weather is providing ideal conditions for felling trees. Along the southwestern coast, for instance, many areas planned for winter harvesting have had to be abandoned in recent years because warm conditions have left the ground too soft for logging machinery.

The agrarian paper also looks at electricity transfer fees, which continue to rise as new legislation limits profits for major power utilities. Distribution companies such as Caruna and Savon Voima estimate that new laws will lower their profits by 20-30 percent over the next few years.

MT also looks at an investigation into suspected illegal methods used to slaughter more than 1,000 sheep in Ostrobothnia –and on a sweeter note – growing demand for domestically-produced sugar.

Sucros, which produces about half of the sugar consumed in Finland, is encouraging more farmers to begin growing sugar beets to satisfy Finland's sweet tooth.

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