Morning headlines: Wednesday 17th April 2019

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Assault MP plans European Parliament bid  

Finns Party MP Teuvo Hakkarainen says he wants to be a member of the European Parliament at next month’s elections. The 59-year old recently had his punishment for a criminal conviction increased by an Appeals Court. He was found guilty of a drunken attack on a female member of parliament where he physically assaulted her and tried to forcibly kiss her. The Finns Party took no substantive action against him. Meanwhile former Prime Minister Alex Stubb (NCP) and former Labour Minister Jari Lindström (Blue) say they won’t be candidates for an MEP job. Linström failed to get elected in Sunday’s vote. His colleague former Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö (Blue) already announced he won’t be a European Parliament candidate after he too lost his seat in the election. The Blue Reform party may go into an electoral alliance with the Christian Democrats for the European Parliament elections.

Two dead in west coast boat accident 

Two fishermen were killed in a boating accident in Preiviiki Bay near Pori. Coast guards say the alarm was raised around 18:00 by someone who spotted the boat upside down in the water. The Rescue Centre sent a patrol boat and a helicopter to the scene and found one man in the water, and another underneath the boat. Both men were wearing life vests but were already dead. Eyewitnesses say the 4.5m boat, which had a hand-guided outboard motor, was around 1km from the shore making it difficult for the elderly fishermen to swim back to shore in the event of capsizing. Authorities say the weather was relatively mild, and the wind speed was around 4 metres per second. They are now investigating the circumstances of the accident.

Overnight fire burns Kempele church 

Ten fire engines responded to an alarm call at the old 19th century church in Kempele near Oulu. The alarm was raised around 19:30 on Tuesday evening by a passing cyclist who called emergency services. The church had been empty for several years, and firefighters say they’ll be looking at whether the electrics in the building, which was due to be refurbished, might have been the cause of the fire. No nearby residents were evacuated, and nobody was injured in the blaze. The last of the fire crews left after 06:00 this morning.

Sitra proposes tax reform to cut emissions 

The Sitra organisation says that Finland’s taxes should be reformed to help reduce emissions. “Finland can only succeed by taking climate change as a starting point for all political decision-making, therefore the solution to the climate crisis must also be at the heart of economic policy” says Sitra Director Mari Pantsar. According to Sitra, tax reform can be carried out without increasing or decreasing the state budget. Some suggestions include reducing labour taxation and raising emissions taxes, and looking at how taxation affects individual industries and households – especially as there has been concerns over how emissions taxation might impact low-income households.

International monitors give Finnish election two thumbs up

A team of international observers who tracked Finland’s general election says the vote was “excellent and well-run”. The 12-strong team with experts from the UK, Canada, Germany, Italy and Kosovo were part of a delegation from the Democracy Volunteers organisation which arrived in Finland earlier in April. Although election observer teams are more commonly associated with emerging democracies, Democracy Volunteers looks at best practice in strong democracies too. In Finland they identified some areas which will be challenging in the future, as postal voting and advance voting becomes more common. Read more at our story here.

Wednesday morning weather

It’s another bright start to the day with sunshine across the whole country except for the far north west around Kilpisjärvi. Meteorologists are forecasting temperatures in double digits, as high as +15C and possibly up to +20C next week as well. Today however sees a chilly start in north west Lapland at -6C. Further south the temperature rises just above freezing for much of the rest of Finland, with an early high up to +6C in Hanko on the south coast.

Finnish Meteorological Institute forecast for Wednesday morning 17th April 2019 / Credit: FMI