Morning headlines: Monday 11th March 2019

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Campaign to fight election ‘fake news’ rolls out

Finnish officials are several weeks into a campaign to educate civil servants, political parties and the media about the threats of ‘fake news’ ahead of April’s election, even as debate around pressure-point topics becomes more extreme. The education campaign is part of a new initiative which will be rolled out also to the public in the coming weeks: online, on the radio, in newspapers and on television. Although officials say they haven’t seen any organised attempts to influence voters ahead of the polls, there is growing concern about disinformation that polarizes society. Read more at our original story here.

Regional Council could make tunnel decision today

The Uusimaa Regional Council is having an extraordinary meeting today, to discuss possible routes for a planned tunnel between Tallinn Airport and Helsinki Airport. On Friday, businessman Peter Vesterbacka announced that his Finnest Bay Area Development company had secured a huge €15 billion funding pledge from Chinese investors which puts pressure on Finnish officials to move ahead with the planned high speed rail link. Vesterbacka wants to bring the tunnel via Keilaniemi in Espoo, a hub for international businesses. This plan is supported by Espoo’s Mayor who is also chair of the Uusimaa Regional Council. However, Helsinki Mayor Jan Vapaavuori (NCP) wants to rule out Espoo as an option completely, and route the tunnel via Helsinki Central Railway station. Read more about the latest tunnel developments at our story here.

Union membership falling in Finland

The number of workers who are part of a union in Finland continues to fall according to new figures released this morning by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. In 2017, slightly more than half of men and two thirds of women were members of trade unions. The number has already fallen by fiver percentage points since 2013 the new survey reports. The number of people who are part of unions is highest in the public services sector at 72.8%, and then in industry at 71.8%. It is lower in private sector services at 47.9%. Similar studies charting unionisation in Finland have been carried out every four years since 2001.

Spring exams start today

Exam season starts today for Finnish high school students, who have been off (supposedly) studying for the last few weeks. The first exam in the calendar is a mother tongue literacy test, with a total of 40,271 students taking part in Finnish or Swedish. The number is about 600 less than last year. For Sámi students, ten have signed up for Skolt Sámi exams; five for Inari Sámi which is a record number; and nine other students are sitting Northern Sámi tests today. All the exams around the country are now done digitally.

PM Juha Sipilä (Centre) and his wife wife, with their 7th grandchild / Credit: Juha Sipilä FB

PM Sipilä welcomes weekend new addition

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre) who is running the country in a caretaker capacity after he offered the government’s resignation on Friday, enjoyed a more pleasant weekend. Sipilä welcomed a new addition to the family, his seventh grandchild. He posted a picture on his Facebook page holding the baby with the comment “a new gift of life”. Sipilä also found time to hit the campaign trail over the weekend with several appearances meeting voters, and did media interviews as well. Elections take place on 14th April.

Monday morning weather 

It’s a very cold and sunny start to the day if you’re waking up in Lapland. Temperatures range from -8C to -25C across the region. Further south expect snow into central and south Finland, from Jyvaskyla into Tampere and down to Helsinki and the capital city region throughout the morning. There’s widespread fog down the eastern border in Joensuu, but bright sunshine further south at Lappeenranta. Turku and the south west also sees bright sunshine this morning, and temperatures range from a low of -25C in north east Lapland to a high of -5C in Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa.

Finnish Meteorological Institute forecast for Monday morning 11th March 2019 / Credit: FMI