Morning headlines: Wednesday 10th April 2019

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Early voting figures show high turn-out 

More than 1.5 million eligible Finns voted in advance of Sunday’s general election, or 36.1% according to official figures. There were hundreds of advance polling stations all around the country with the busiest in Lapland where 43.9% of people voted early; and the lowest advance turn-out figure was in Åland with just 14.4%. On the mainland, Uusimaa had the lowest number with 31.2%.

PM in Brussels for crucial Brexit summit

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre) is in Brussels today, for a special meeting of the European Council to discuss Britain’s exit from the EU. The British government is requesting an extension the leave date until the end of June. However, EU governments are expected to offer only a longer extension, with some conditions on how Britain behaves moving forward, and with a get-out clause in case the British parliament finds common ground finally on a withdrawal agreement they’ve already rejected three times. Any significant extension could mean that Britain has to take part in European Parliament elections scheduled for the end of May.

Parliament’s closing session 

The parliament elected at the 2015 general election meets for the last time today, and the closing ceremony is steeped in tradition. Celebrations begin with a church service this morning, and this afternoon at parliament in Helsinki the Speaker Paula Risikko (NCP) speaks at the closing ceremony, followed by an official declaration from President Sauli Niinistö to bring the current parliamentary term to a close.

Report: Sote reform riddled with political problems 

A new report commissioned by the government is critical of the way political interference brought down legislation on social, healthcare and regional reform. That’s according to a draft copy of the report seen by Helsingin Sanomat newspaper this morning. The draft report also says there were unrealistic timetables and ever-changing goals with the reform, which went back and forth between parliament and committees, and eventually prompted the resignation of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä and his government six weeks ago. The publication of this report, critical of the government, has been postponed due to the elections, HS says.

Ferry running again after low sea alert

Residents on the island of Hailuoto off the coast of Oulu have been connected with the mainland again, after their ferry service was restored this morning. The 1000 residents were cut off on Tuesday when the boat was unable to run due to low sea water conditions. The water level dropped by more than one metre, meaning the FinFerries boat couldn’t make the crossing to the island – the only transport link to the mainland. The ferry operator says traffic will get back to normal this morning.

Rest day for Lionesses after Canada defeat 

The Finnish women’s national ice hockey team players get a day off today from their World Championship campaign after a heavy defeat by Canada on Tuesday evening. The Lionesses were beaten 6-1 by an impressive Canadian team at Espoo’s Metro Areena, meaning they finish the round robin stage of the competition with two wins and two losses. The good news is that Finland still proceeds to the quarter finals, and face the Czechs on Thursday night to fight for a place in the semi final. Read more in our story here.

Wednesday morning weather

It’s a rather chilly start to Wednesday morning in Lapland with temperatures between -8C and -10C across the north but also the best and brightest of the sunshine as well. Further south and there’s snow in the forecast through Jyväskylä and Central Finland, Tampere and Pirkanmaa, Joensuu and the eastern border, and Lappeenranta and the south east, with temperatures between -2C and -4C. It’s a cloudier start to the day in Turku and the south west, and the capital city region. Along the Ostrobothnia coast expect some sunshine and temperatures around -3C.

Finnish Meteorological Institute forecast for Wednesday morning 10th April 2019 / Credit: FMI