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Halonen: Gov't must tackle economy & racism

President Tarja Halonen has expressed the hope that the cabinet will be able to cope with two major problems simultaneously this autumn. She says that along with the financial crisis, it should also ensure that racism does not proliferate.

Tarja Halonen
Image: YLE

As to the broader economic picture, Halonen said she has not lost faith in the European Union's ability to solve its crises. She noted that it has plenty of experience in negotiating solutions involving widely different nations.

When the Finnish government returns from its summer recess, it faces major challenges, she told YLE on Sunday at her summer residence, Kultaranta, in Naantali.

The economic crisis is "coming at us from every direction" while various kinds of hate speech have festered in society this summer, she observed.

Links downturn and populism

"If the economic situation remains difficult and even worsens, then we will need the kind of patience that is able to use democratic means to combat the kind of populist responses that cannot produce results -- but which create anger and bitterness," said Halonen.

The president says she is concerned that, often during a financial crisis, those who are worst hurt are those who have the least to lose otherwise. Jobs disappear and some cannot even afford the basics. Then one readily looks for scapegoats. This in turn may lead to a rise in populism and perhaps even hate speech, she suggested.

Helsinki Stock Exchange down again (siirryt toiseen palveluun)

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