Jussi Halla-aho, the chairperson of the Finns Party, attending a plenary session in the Finnish Parliament on Wednesday, 12 May 2021. (Emmi Korhonen – Lehtikuva)

AN OPINION POLL by Helsingin Sanomat suggests the Finns Party remains in an unprecedentedly good spot heading into the municipal elections scheduled for 13 June.

Even though support for the populist right-wing opposition party stayed unchanged from the previous poll at 21.6 per cent, the party has more breathing room atop the poll due to a drop of 0.7 percentage points in support for the Social Democratic Party.

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Speaker of the Parliament Anu Vehviläinen (Centre) led the third day of debate over the EU’s recovery facility in the Finnish Parliament on Thursday, 13 May 2021. (Mikko Stig – Lehtikuva)

DEBATE over the European Union’s 750-billion-euro recovery and resilience facility will continue for already the fourth day in the Finnish Parliament on Friday.

Speakers of the Parliament have ruled that the debate will be allowed to come to its natural conclusion, meaning it will continue until lawmakers no longer request the floor to make a statement on the issue.

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Mayor of Helsinki on 8 April held a press conference regarding the private funding of a design and architecture museum proposed for South Harbour, Helsinki. (Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva)

MAYOR OF HELSINKI Jan Vapaavuori (NCP) will assume the part-time role of an advisor of urban development with NREP, a Danish real estate investor and developer, after completing his term at the helm of the Finnish capital in August, reports Kauppalehti.

“It felt natural that the new responsibilities have some sort of continuation from what I’ve picked up along the way,” he commented to the commerce-oriented newspaper.

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Coronavirus-related instructions at Helsinki Airport on 29 January 2021. (Antti Aimo-Koivisto – Lehtikuva)

THE GOVERNMENT of Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) will convene later this week to continue weighing up the possibility of making a certificate of a recent negative coronavirus test a condition for entering Finland, reports Helsingin Sanomat.

The issue has been on the table of lawmakers since last autumn, but thus far the attempts to draft the requisite regulation have failed – to the exasperation of industry and the opposition.

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A customer with a beer in one hand, a face mask in the other in a pub in Helsinki on 19 August 2020. (Antti Aimo-Koivisto – Lehtikuva)

RESTAURANTS in Finland are allowed to add an hour or two to their serving and opening hours as of today.

The Finnish government decided in its meeting yesterday that restaurants serving primarily food will be allowed to serve alcohol until 7pm and stay open until 8pm in areas with the worst epidemiological situation. Establishments serving primarily alcoholic beverages, in turn, must stop serving at 6pm and close their doors by 7pm.

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Minister of Justice Anna-Maja Henriksson (right) and Venla Roth, the anti-trafficking coordinator at the Ministry of Justice, shed light on a new 55-measure action plan to reduce and prevent human trafficking in Finland on 7 May 2021. (Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva)

THE GOVERNMENT of Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) has unveiled an action plan with dozens of measures to weed out human trafficking in Finland.

The 55-measure action plan was devised partly in response to the numerous reprimands the country has received over the years from international human rights watchdogs for its insufficient actions against human trafficking.

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Police officers in crowd-control gear monitored a demonstration held in Helsinki on 1 May 2021. (Emmi Korhonen – Lehtikuva)

POLICE RACISM has become a topic of nationwide discussion following the release of two reports about questionable police actions and procedures by YLE.

Officers at Helsinki Police Department, the public broadcasting company reported, engaged in systematic activity with characteristics of ethnic profiling by keeping track of the movements of Roma in Helsinki in 2013–2017.

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Mikko Spolander, the director of the economics department at the Ministry of Finance, presented the ministry’s latest economic forecast in a press release in Helsinki on Wednesday, 12 May 2021. (Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva)

THE MINISTRY OF FINANCE on Wednesday revealed it has revised up its economic growth forecast for this year from 2.5 to 2.6 per cent.

Jukka Railavuo, a senior financial advisor at the Ministry of Finance, said the Finnish economy has contracted less than expected, as industry, construction and commodity trade managed to stand their ground in the face of challenges caused by the coronavirus epidemic.

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The European Union’s flags fly in the wind outside the headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium, on 11 March 2021. (Aris Oikonomou – AFP/Lehtikuva)

THE PARTICIPATION of Finland in the European Union’s massive recovery and resilience facility divides public opinion in Finland, reveals a survey commissioned by the Finnish Business and Policy Forum (Eva).

Eva on Sunday reported that 40 per cent of the public agreed and 38 per cent disagreed with the statement that participating in the 750-billion-euro facility is in the best interests of the country.

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Squills blooming in crisp but sunny weather in Helsinki on Mother’s Day. (Jussi Nukari – Lehtikuva)

THIS WEEK is expected to bring an early taste of summer to large parts of Finland, report YLE and Helsingin Sanomat.

“We’re in for several summery days and clear signs of summer. Leaf buds will open and birch pollen will blow up on your eyes,” Jouko Korhonen, a meteorologist at the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI), stated to Helsingin Sanomat on Sunday.

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Mika Salminen, the director of health security at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), reminds that people should observe social distancing also when getting together outdoors. (Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva)

MAY DAY celebrations may be partly to blame for the up-ticks in coronavirus cases reported recently by some localities in Finland, views Mika Salminen, the director of health security at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

Nationwide, however, the epidemiological situation remains fairly calm.

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Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru was photographed arriving for government negotiations at the House of the Estate in Helsinki on 29 April 2021. (Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva)

MINISTER of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru (SDP) acknowledged on YLE TV1 on Monday that fundamental rights will likely create challenges as the government continues to figure out its approach to preventing the spread of the new coronavirus at Finnish borders.

“We have to be tough at the borders because otherwise this constant rigmarole from the viewpoint of epidemic control and restrictions will become part of the daily lives of Finns,” she said.

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Children jump in the beach of Valencia, on May 9, 2021. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

The most interesting and eyecatching pictures of the week, from all around the world.

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Young people played basketball in Espoo on 15 April 2021. (Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva)

SOME of the restrictions adopted to rein in the coronavirus epidemic will be lifted or relaxed in the Finnish capital region on Monday, 17 May.

The coronavirus coordination group for the region announced yesterday evening that outdoor competitive events related to the leisure activities of children and young people will be resumed for people born no earlier than 2001. Whether the events can be attended by the public will depend on the position of the State Administrative Regional Agency for Southern Finland.

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According to a report by Helsingin Sanomat, researchers from the University of Helsinki believe that they have found the root cause of Parkinson’s disease, a long-term, degenerative brain disorder that affects movement. 

The results of a study published in the journal Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology suggest that the disease could originate from hydrogen sulfide produced by intestinal bacteria. The pathologic process thus begins in the gut and spreads to the brain. 

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Data from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) suggests that Finland has a remarkably high vehicle tax rate compared to other European countries. 

According to a report by Ilta-Sanomat, the country collected approximately EUR 7.9 billion in road taxes in 2019. When compared to the total number of vehicles, this amounts to around 2,523 euros per vehicle, including passenger cars, vans, trucks and buses.

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