Helsinki’s Undocumented Initiative
Helsinki City Council last night voted to approve provision of health care services for undocumented migrants and other ‘paperless’ residents. The initiative passed 45-39In the future, undocumented migrants and any other people without papers to be legally resident in Finland, will be guaranteed access to healthcare in Helsinki for example to treat chronic illness, receive medicines, any mental health care and vaccinations. It extends also to women who are not pregnant and children too. In Finland, many EU citizens and some students who do not have adequate insurance cover for healthcare are often considered to be ‘paperless’. Green Alliance Councillor Ozan Yanar wrote on Facebook that the vote was “a great moment for vulnerable people”. Parties in favour of the initiative included Greens; Swedish Peoples’ Party; Pirate Party; Feminist Party and Left Alliance. Parties who voted against the initiative included National Coalition Party; Finns Party and Blue Reform. Social Democrats were split for and against the proposal.
Slush Tech Conference Begins
The annual Slush conference for startups, entrepreneurs, new technology and investors begins in Helsinki’s Messukeskus today. Some 20,000 people are expected in the Finnish capital, with the keynote opening address given by former US Vice President Al Gore. Also on the guest list this year, CEOs of Tencent, described by Slush CEO Marianne Vikkula as “the Google of Asia”; as well as three royal princes from Sweden, Netherlands and UK who will meet with entrepreneurs at the event. Read more about what you can expect from Slush at our original story here.
Neo Nazi Court Ruling Expected
A court in Tampere is expected to rule today on the possible abolition of the far right group Nordic Resistance Movement today. In March, the National Police Board filed a lawsuit to abolish the neo Nazi organisation, because it considered the group’s activities to be against the law. The Nordic Resistance Movement opposes any ban, citing their rights to freedom of speech and association.
New Presidential Poll
A new opinion poll by state funded broadcaster YLE, shows that incumbent President Sauli Niinistö has increased his support in the upcoming presidential election. The survey of 1,200 people shows that Niinistö – who was the National Coalition Party candidate in 2012, but is running as an independent candidate this time, although still supported by NCP – would receive as much as 80% of the votes in the 28th January election. That’s up four percentage points since October. Niinistö is also proving popular among other parties. Some 54% of Green Alliance supporters would vote for Niinistö, with just 40% of Greens supporting their own candidate Pekka Haavisto, the second most popular presidential candidate. In fact, that’s the same situation for almost all the other candidates, with only Finns Party voters saying they prefer their own presidential candidate over Niinistö. Support for other candidates, from Social Democrats, Swedish Peoples’ Party, Left Alliance, Centre Party and Finns Party hovers between 1% and 4% in the new poll.
Winter War Memorial Unveiled Today
Finland’s first national monument commemorating the Winter War of 1939/1940 against Russia will be unveiled today in Helsinki, on the anniversary of Russia’s attack. The ten metre tall sculpture in polished steel, depicts a Finnish soldier standing on an orb, with archive war photographs inside. The whole structure, called Lightbringer and designed by Finnish artist Pekka Kauhanen, is illuminated from within. It will be unveiled this evening at Kasarmitori, and the event is open to members of the public who should be in place by 16:45. You can read more about the story behind Lightbringer Winter War memorial at our original story here.
Thursday Morning Weather
There’s dangerous road warnings for some parts of Finland on Thursday morning, according to the Finnish Meteorological Institute FMI. Overnight snow is causing problems on the road in Päijät-Häme, Kymenlaakso, North and South Karelia, Central Finland, North and South Savo and Kainuu. The problems are said to be particularly bad in eastern Finland. In Lapland, morning temperatures range from between -15°C down to -25°C. In south and southwest Finland, including the capital city region, the temperature will begin above zero, but with rain expected.