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Wednesday's papers: Tax refund bonanza, Ville Niinistö says no, a new political party, better tyres

Finland's print press discusses the largest tax refund total in Finnish history, former Greens chair Ville Niinistö's decision to not re-take the helm, and more.

Ville Niinistö
Ville Niinistö will not run for the Greens party chair position - or for re-election in the Finnish Parliament. Image: Jarno Kuusinen / Yle

Finland's most widely-read daily Helsingin Sanomat reports on the highest tax-return payout in Finnish history, as over one million residents of the country will receive over 1000 euros back from the taxman on 11 December.

Tax Administration figures show that the state and municipalities will return 2.9 billion euros to 3.6 million taxpayers this year, for a total almost 13 percent greater than last year.

Finland took in less tax revenue last year, despite a 2.6 percent increase in overall income. Finnish residents earned about 129 billion euros in taxable earned income and over 10 billion euros in taxable capital income in 2017.

Tax relief offered as part of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä's competitiveness pact is the main reason why people are paying lower taxes, HS says. Entrepreneurial write-offs and a higher tax credit for household expenses also contributed to the record-breaking tax return.

Ville Niinistö refuses on two counts

The southwest newspaper Turun Sanomat carries a story on former Greens chair Ville Niinistö's announcement that he will not run for his party's vacant chair position, and his shocking addition – that he will also not run to continue as an MP in the spring.

"Many people asked me to return as chair, as they felt it would be a natural continuum, but you can't step in the same river twice," Niinistö told TS.

Green Party Chair Touko Aalto resigned from his position last week for health reasons and so the political party will choose a new leader on 3 November. Interim chair Maria Ohisalo said she would not replace Aalto, and now Niinistö, who TS says led the party to "historically high levels of voter support" in 2011-2017, has also declined.

This leaves MP Outi Alanko-Kahiluoto, so far the only candidate to have thrown her hat into the ring.

Niinistö tells his hometown paper that he has not lost his faith in politics, and might consider a run as Europarliamentarian in the future. He is also leaving the possibility that he might return to the Finnish Parliament someday open.

New nationalist political party in the wings

The local capital city paper Helsingin Uutiset carries a story this Wednesday on the nationalist Suomen Kansa Ensin (SKE) group, translated as The Finnish People First. Established in November 2017, the movement is seeking to be recognized as a political party in Finland.

SKE Chair Marco de Wit has announced that the group has successfully collected the 5,000 signatures required to register as an official political party, and will deliver the signatures to the justice ministry today.

Among other things, the party wishes to leave the EU and the common currency in favour of once again adopting the Finnish markka, the currency of Finland from 1860 to 2002. The paper reports that the SKE is opposed to "adverse immigration, Islamification, and NATO". It says the party's goal is to participate in the parliamentary elections in the spring and establish branches and district offices throughout the country.

Better wheels on the road

And to finish, a story from the Kajaani-based Kainuun Sanomat on a marked improvement in the tyres that traverse Finland's roads.

Now that the weather has turned cold and slippery, many Finns are changing their "summer tyres" for "winter tyres" with better friction, and the paper talks with several experts that say that the condition of the tyres they are seeing are greatly improved over previous years.

"As we saw in spot-checks, the tyres on vehicles are now in better shape on average than they used to be. There may be three reasons for this: improved attitudes, improved standards of living, and a tightening of tyre regulations at vehicle inspections," Juha Laulumaa, head of a Vianor tyre shop and service centre in Tampere tells KS.

The stricter tyre rules that Laulumaa refers to came into effect in the spring. They require that a driving ban be placed on a car with subpar tyres, when in the past, motorists judged to have worn tyres were given a month's grace period to buy a new set of treads and come in for another inspection.

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