Morning headlines: Wednesday 31st October 2018

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Ville Niinistö to quit parliament 

The former chairman of the Green Party Ville Niinistö says he won’t be a candidate to be the temporary chair of the party, and will in fact quit parliament at the next election. He made the announcement in an interview with Lännen Media on Wednesday morning, amid speculation that he would throw his name in the mix to succeed Touko Aalto as the chairman of the party at a vote coming up on Saturday. Whoever wins that vote – there are two current candidates – would serve out the rest of Aalto’s term in office, taking the party through the next elections and then be replaced by a new two year chairperson in early summer. Although set to quit the Finnish parliament at the upcoming spring election, Niinistö says he is mulling a bid for election to the European Parliament instead.

Early morning factory fire in Janakkala

A fire has broken out at the Vapo wood pellet factory at Janakkala south of Hämeenlinna. According to the rescue department, the alarm was raised around 06:30 this morning and 13 fire engines have been sent to the scene of the blaze. The company produces wood pellets at the Janakkala plant, to be used as an energy source for industrial customers. Officials say the fire is under control and this morning investigators will be looking at the cause of the blaze.

Foreign minister back from sick leave

Embattled foreign minister Timo Soini is back at work today, after being hospitalized earlier in October with a serious skin infection. He’s been on sick leave since then following doctor’s orders. During his absence, Soini had to cancel official visits to Iceland and South Africa, but most of his work was covered by other ministers and officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Soini has had a troubled autumn so far, with an official rebuke from the Chancellor of Justice over his attendance at an anti-abortion rally while on official government business in Canada; a rare vote of no confidence in parliament over his continued anti-abortion comments; and getting into hot water for criticising efforts to curb climate change. Soini is said to be considering his political future and could make an announcement around Christmas.

Slippery road warnings 

The Finnish Transport Agency has issued warnings of dangerous driving conditions in Northern Ostrobothnia, Kainuu and Lapland due to rain and snow on the roads, and freezing temperatures that forms black ice. There’s already been a spate of minor accidents reported overnight and this morning as well, including in Ylikiiminki near Oulu where an adult and three children needed first aid after a crash.

Wednesday morning weather

It’s another mild start to the morning but still with some treacherous conditions around the country. Temperatures hover around -3°C in Lapland this morning with snow and sleet in places. There’s cloud cover and the chance of sleet and rain across the rest of the country and temperatures range from +1°C in Oulu to +11°C in Åland. Along the Baltic Sea coast there’s high winds with gusts up to 14 metres per second forecast.

Finnish Meteorological Institute forecast for Wednesday morning 31st October 2018 / Credit: FMI