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Wednesday's papers: Warm winter savings, party poll, identity theft worries

Mild winter weather saves millions in heating costs, and another poll shows the Finns Party leading the political pack.

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Strikes shuttering major supermarket chains could temporarily lower consumer prices for fresh produce. Image: AOP

The Jyväskylä-based daily Keskisuomalainen reports that mild temperatures this winter have meant major savings for both households and industries in Finland.

According to an estimate by the Uutissuomalainen newspaper group, total heating costs this winter may be down by as much as 80 million euros. During December and January, that worked out for individual households to around 50 euros in district heating costs for flats and some 100 euros for single-family houses.

There are approximately 1.4 million flats and 70,000 detached homes in the country that are connected to district heating systems.

The paper expects that lower-than-normal heating costs will continue in February, especially in southern parts of the country. The current 15-day forecast for the capital region is for temperatures well above freezing.

Electricity consumption was also below normal for December-January, but according to Keskisuomalainen, the reason was not the mild weather. This it attributes to a general fall in economic activity, and the impact of strikes in industrial sectors that are big users of electrical power.

Unsurprising poll

Tampere's Aamulehti carries a poll by the Alma Media group showing that the opposition Finns Party continues to hold a lead with voters, being the party of first choice of 21.7 percent of those surveyed.

In second place was the other main opposition party, the National Coalition Party (NCP), with the backing of 17.5 percent.

As the paper points out, the results are probably not a surprise to anyone. The only finding that Aamulehti did find of special interest was that for the first time, Finns Party supporters were the most confident about their choice. A majority, 61 percent answered that they were "absolutely certain" they would vote for Finns Party candidates. Traditionally, National Coalition Party supporters have been the most party-loyal voters. In this poll, 58 percent of NCP supporters said they were certain of their choice.

Even though these opposition parties held the two top spots in the poll, Aamulehti pointed out that a majority, 53.2 percent of the voters asked, said that they back one of the parties in the five-party government.

No to Trump

Finland's largest circulation daily, Helsingin Sanomat also carries a political opinion poll, but one more than a little out of the ordinary.

The paper commissioned the Kantar TNS pollster to survey views among Finns of US President Donald Trump, and his possible election to a new four-year term in office.

It found that an overwhelming majority of the over 1,200 people polled do not want to see Trump occupying the White House after this year. Eighty-one percent said that they hope that Trump loses the election in November. Only 11 percent would like to see him reelected.

There was a clear division between Finns Party supporters and everyone else. Thirty-four percent of Finns Party supporters said they were in favour of Trump's reelection. Even so, even in that party a majority stated they would like to see a new occupant in the White House.

As Helsingin Sanomat points out, Finns of course have no say in US elections, but the actions and decisions of US presidents are of keen interest because of the impact they have on the development and political atmosphere of the whole world.

Just over a third of respondents in the Helsingin Sanomat poll said they believe that a second term for Trump would weaken relations between Finland and the United States. Some five percent think they would improve, and the largest group, 44 percent, said they don't think his reelection will make any difference to relations between the two countries.

Identity theft concerns

Oulu's Kaleva looks at a report by the Finnish cyber-security company F-Secure saying that identity theft is one of the chief concerns of internet users.

Based on data collected in nine countries, F-Secure found that 9 out of 10 people are worried to some extent about their bank accounts being hacked and their money being stolen. An equally large number are worried about online shopping fraud and about their personal data being compromised and their identities being used for illegal purposes.

The report found that among Brazilians, up to 76 percent of internet users in that country are the most likely to become victims of cyber criminals.

In general, women express more concern about the threat of identity theft and cyber crime that do men, even though men report higher rates of being targeted by cyber criminals.

Cheaper veggies?

According to the farmers’ union newspaper Maaseudun Tulevaisuus, threatened strikes that may close down Finland's two main supermarket chains later this month may cost food suppliers millions in losses and bring consumers better deals on fresh produce.

It quotes Jonas Lundström of the Närpes Grönsaker vegetable growers' cooperative as saying that talks are under way in the sector on selling produce even if the big chains close their doors. In his words, "We don't have the alternative of not selling."

According to Lundström, the two main supermarket chains usually buy around 80 percent of the vegetables produced by his cooperative.

In order to keep sales up, producers are already planning to cut wholesale prices, which is turn should be reflected in lower retail prices in markets not affected by the strike.

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