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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.