Pekka Haavisto Interview
Green Alliance Presidential candidate Pekka Haavisto says his campaign is gaining momentum in the days leading up to Sunday’s presidential election voting. This is the former UN diplomat’s second attempt to become president, after finishing behind Sauli Niinistö in 2012. In a Wednesday morning English-language interview with News Now Finland and MTV Uutiset, Haavisto says this time round he’s been campaigning all across the country and seeing some green shoots of support outside the party’s traditional urban base. Haavisto said for the first time, he was talking with farmers who support Green Alliance, as more ecological farming methods and the ‘green economy’ become increasingly important. Drawing on his experience with international diplomacy, Haavisto says he would be willing to commit Finnish troops to peacekeeping missions in Ukraine, if both Russia and Ukraine would stick to agreements that aim to bring an end to conflict in the region. You can watch the interview again in full later this morning on our website and social media channels.
Election Budgets & Presidential Power
The war chests of at least two presidential candidates are rather modest. New figures show the Finns Party’s Laura Huhtasaari has €210,000 at her disposal to contest the election; while Left Alliance candidate Merja Kyllönen has €148,000. The details are set out in official election funding notices. Meanwhile Finns say they would be happy if the president had more power. A new survey from the Business Council 60% of people would give the president the power to dissolve parliament and call early elections. And 82% of people said they would want to give a lot of power to the president as part of a greater role in foreign and security policy. Some 2,000 people were questioned in the survey, which was carried out at the beginning of January.
Bad Driving Conditions & Extreme Low Temperatures
There are road warnings in force for southern and western Finland this morning, due to snow and freezing rain. The Finnish Transport Agency Liikkennevirasto also warns of high winds. Motorists are encouraged to allow more time to get to their destinations today. Driving conditions are also very bad in southern Finland, Central Finland, North Ostrobothnia and Kainuu. And people in parts of Lapland are waking up to extreme cold temperatures this morning. In Inari, the coldest temperature of the winter was recorded at -36.8°C. The Finnish Meteorological Institute FMI expects that record to remain in place for some time.
Syria Terror Charges Ruling Expected
A court in Helsinki is expected to give a verdict today in the case of three Finns accused of preparing to join a terror group and fight in Syria. Two 33-year-old men and a 37-year-old man are accused of preparing a crime for terrorist purposes, but two of them never even made it to Syria. The prosecution is demanding 1.5 to 2 years in prison. The men have denied the charges.
Health Care For Undocumented Workers
One-in-three Finns would expand non-emergency health care to undocumented migrants, across the whole of the country according to a new survey out this morning. The capital city Helsinki became the first city to offer some non-emergency treatment to so-called ‘paperless’ residents. In addition, Espoo, Turku and Vantaa offer a slightly wider range of services to pregnant women and children without papers. The survey found Finns Party voters were most strongly against giving more health care to undocumented migrants. Some one thousand people responded to the survey which was carried out in mid-December.
Final Winter Olympic Selection Today
The final Finnish team for the South Korea Winter Olympics will be named today. So far, 61 athletes from seven different sports have been selected in two installments. There will be around 100 athletes going to PyeongChang in total. At the 2014 Winter Olympics in Soch, there were 102 Finnish athletes. This year’s games open on 9th February.