Campaign posters outside parliament on the morning after the election (image: Lehtikuva)

INTERNATIONAL COVERAGE OF FINLAND this week was dominated by the results of the national election, which saw the ruling conservative coalition lose its majority, whilst the far-right Finns Party crept up to second place.  

All of the major global news outlets have offered their own analysis of the shock results, with opinions ranging from incredulity to dismay to optimism. Some outlets focused on what the results signify about the future of EU elections and the entrenchment of far-right populists on the political scene.  

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A Finns Party campaign poster from April 2019 which echoes tactics of American neo-Nazis and the far right (Image: Lehtikuva)

INTERNATIONAL NEWS OUTLETS THIS WEEK began to take notice of the recent surge in support for the far-right Finns Party, which has seen them go from sixth to second place in the polls, closely trailing the Social Democrats by just a few percentage points. One American broadsheet described the development as evidence that ‘Trumpism’ has finally gained a foothold in Finland, whilst also suggesting that Finn’s viewpoints on migration are divorced from reality.  

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The Polar Bear Sisu at Ranua Zoo in Lapland (Image: Lehtikuva)

THIS WEEK IN THE WORLD PRESS, the US business magazine Forbes ran a lengthy editorial about the Finnish concept of ‘Sisu’, and how it can be compared to the “American Dream”.

Meanwhile, CBS News has been covering Finland’s social security system throughout the week as part of their World of Mothers series. Several articles have been penned covering the lower costs of childcare in Finland, discussing why such a situation does not exist in the United States.

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News of Matti Nykänen filled front pages across Finland on Monday (Image credit: Lehtikuva)

 

INTERNATIONAL HEADLINES WERE DOMINATED THIS WEEK with news of the passing of legendary Finnish ski jumper Matti Nykänen, as much of the country mourned following his unexpected death on Sunday evening. Tributes to the troubled and controversial athlete poured in from across the world, with the New York Times dedicating a touching obituary to him.

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Members of the far-right hate group Nordic Resistance marching in Turku in August 2018 (Image: Lehtikuva)

A MAJOR STORY concerning Finland in the international press this week centered on an upcoming white nationalist conference in Turku, which will host prominent hate figures and neo-Nazis from the US, Ukraine, Sweden, and Russia. The conference, known as ‘Awakening II’, will feature speakers from across the spectrum of the growing right-wing “identitarian movement” in Europe.  

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The icebreaker Sisu docked in Helsinki earlier this year (Image: Lehtikuva)

VISIT FINLAND’S LATEST PR INITIATIVE grabbed headlines around the world this week, one which promises happiness-starved travellers a chance to “rent a Finn” to show them around the country. The scheme is open to applicants from anywhere in the world,

with successful entrants being awarded an all-expenses-paid trip around the country, accompanied by a happy Finn who will show them the secret to “the Finnish way of life”.

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Apartments in central Helsinki, where an average salary over over $4600 a month is needed to afford a one-bedroom apartment (Image: Lehtikuva)

THIS WEEK IT WAS REVEALED that the scale of undocumented refugees and asylum seekers in Finland is much greater than anyone anticipated. Recent reports have shown that as many as half of the 30,000 asylum seekers that entered Finland at the height of the refugee crisis may have “slipped underground”, with authorities having little to no details on their whereabouts or wellbeing.

This has been attributed to Finland’s notoriously strict laws on seeking asylum and gaining legal residency in the country.

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Russian president Vladimir Putin with Sauli Niinistö in Savonlinna, Eastern Finland (Image: Lehtikuva)

WITH ELECTORAL CAMPAIGNING HEATING UP, the international media is beginning to focus its attention on Russia’s role in interfering with elections, and the Finnish government’s defensive response. Russia has faced allegations of using an army of “trolls” and bots to spread misinformation about electoral candidates across Europe, as part of an effort to swing public opinion toward more right-wing, pro-Russian parties.

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The documentary, Slaget om kvalen ("Battle of Agony"), shows grisly footage of Norway's whaling industry, including one bloody scene where a fisherman cuts open a whale and removes its fetus.

Six Russian ecological organisations have submitted an official letter addressed to António Guterres, the Secretary-General of the UN and Harald V, the King of Norway, asking them to stop or limit the quotas for whale fishing. 

The letter makes a strong point that Norway is the only country refusing to accept the moratorium on whale fishing declared by the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, arguing that it is a historically established national tradition.

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The Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO), Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C44) launches off onboard India's Defence Research and Development Organisation's (DRDO) imaging satellite 'Microsat R' along with student satellite "Kalamsat" at Satish Dhawan Space centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh state, on January 24 , 2019

India has a new dream, a deep conviction to launch an Indian into space, from Indian soil on an Indian rocket by 2022 which is before the seventy-fifth birthday for India’s independence. Work has started in right earnest at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) which is expected to deliver this Herculean task in less than 1.4 billion dollars, possibly the cheapest human space flight ever to be undertaken in the world. This confidence and promise comes riding on the repeated successes that the Indian space agency has tasted in the past.  

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Finland topped the UN World Happiness Report for the second year running, prompting questions about what Finland does differently (Image: Lehitkuva)

IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN. This week the UN’s annual World Happiness Report revealed that Finland has retained its top position as the “world’s happiest country” for the second year running, prompting several articles and opinion pieces about what Finland does differently. The US-based hipster bible Vice took a slightly different approach, uploading a YouTube video questioning whether Finns are actually happy in any emotional sense.

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(Image: Lehtikuva)

FOLLOWING CALLS FROM US PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP for European allies to “take back” jihadists who left their countries to join IS, Finland took steps to prepare for such an eventuality.

Unlike countries such as the UK and France, which have already refused to accept former IS fighters back into the country and have even taken steps to revoke their citizenship, Finland has taken a more conciliatory tone.

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(Image: Lehtikuva)

THIS WEEK FINLAND introduced wipe-sweeping proposals to its criminal justice system that would ensure that “sex without consent” and sex with underage minors will always be treated as rape. The ground-breaking proposals, similar to laws introduced in Sweden in 2018, have garnered widespread attention in the global press, particularly in the context of the burgeoning #MeToo women’s movement.

In other news, international media outlets have also begun their coverage of the Finnish general election campaigns.

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(Image credit: Lehtikuva)

THE RESIGNATION OF THE FINNISH GOVERNMENT dominated international headlines about Finland this week, with editorials displaying a mixture of surprise, concern, and bafflement at the decision.

Juha Sipilä’s resignation over a failure to deliver promised wide-ranging reforms to health and social care has been described by the international press as cynical, justified, and unnecessary in equal measure. 

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Copies of the National Archive's Holocaust report, which is available to the public.

 

FINLAND MADE GLOBAL HEADLINES THIS WEEK following the release of a report from the National Archives that concluded it was “highly likely” that Finnish volunteers participated in the large-scale killing of Jews during the Holocaust. National newspapers and public figures in the US, UK, and Israel commented on the revelations that Finnish volunteers working for the Nazi SS participated in mass murder, while praising the decision of the National Archives to publish the findings.

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Sara Khameis's mother is Finnish, and her father is a Jordanian. Sara has grown up in Amman, the capital of Jordan. She received a bachelor degree in biotechnology in Jordan and then applied for a Master's degree in Finland.

-I can speak some Finnish, but not enough. My research group has welcomed me, but it still feels that it is difficult to get Finnish friends. Maybe that's because I spend leisure time differently. I go to the movies and shopping. Sometimes I smoke argil (water pipe). However, in Finland, students almost always drink alcohol in their free time.

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