Petteri Orpo, the chairperson of the National Coalition, attended a question-time debate in the Parliament House in Helsinki on 12 May 2022. Support for the right-wing opposition party remains at a level of its own, reveals an opinion poll commissioned by Helsingin Sanomat. (Antti Aimo-Koivisto – Lehtikuva)

THE NATIONAL COALITION has held on to its status as the most popular political party in Finland.

Helsingin Sanomat on Wednesday revealed that its latest opinion poll indicates that the right-wing opposition party would win 24.1 per cent of the votes if the parliamentary elections were held today, emerging as the largest party by the comfortable margin of almost 5.5 percentage points over the Social Democrats.

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A voting board shows the clear-cut results of a highly anticipated vote on Nato in the session hall of the Finnish Parliament in Helsinki on Tuesday, 17 May 2022. As many as 188 lawmakers voted for and only 8 against applying for membership in the defence alliance with full rights and obligations. (Antti Aimo-Koivisto – Lehtikuva)

MEMBERS of the Finnish Parliament on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly in favour of Finland applying for membership in Nato.

The Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee’s unanimous proposal to seek membership in the defence alliance was supported by 188 and opposed by 8 lawmakers. Only three lawmakers were absent from the plenary session, and not a single lawmaker cast a blank vote.

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First Deputy Speaker of the Finnish Parliament Antti Rinne (SDP) listened as lawmakers articulated their thoughts on Finland pursuing membership in Nato in the Parliament House on Monday, 16 May 2022. (Roni Rekomaa – Lehtikuva)

FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER of the Finnish Parliament Antti Rinne (SDP) struck his gavel shortly after midnight to signal the end of a referral debate on the Finnish bid to join Nato.

The debate had dragged on for more than 14 hours as over 200 lawmakers requested the floor to deliver a statement that reflected the deliberate but often also personal and emotional justification for their opinion, described YLE.

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Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) had the floor as lawmakers debated Finland’s bid to join Nato in the Parliament House on Monday, 16 May 2022. (Emmi Korhonen – Lehtikuva)

PRIME MINISTER Sanna Marin (SDP) has expressed her bafflement at the change of heart Turkey has had about the Finnish and Swedish bids to join Nato.

“Previously, Finland has been assured that Turkey wants to neither place any obstacles to Finland and Sweden’s possible Nato memberships nor complicate the process,” she commented on YLE A-studio on Monday.

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President Niinistö after the NATO decision: A new era is opening – the result will be a protected Finland that is part of a stable, strong and responsible Nordic region

On Sunday, 15 May 2022, the President of the Republic of Finland and the Ministerial Committee on Foreign and Security Policy decided that after consulting Parliament, Finland will apply for membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

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President Joe Biden meets with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, on May 10, 2022. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

US President Joe Biden, in a call with leaders of Sweden and Finland discussed close defense cooperation between countries and underscored his support for NATO's open-door policy.

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This file photo taken on July 27, 2017 shows Finland's President Sauli Niinisto (R) and Russian President Vladimir Putin shaking hands after a press conference in Punkaharju hotel in Savonlinna, Finland. - Finnish President Sauli Niinisto spoke with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on May 14, 2022 regarding the Nordic country's application for NATO membership, which is expected to be officially announced this weekend, his office said. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

In a statement released by the office of the President of Finland today, also tweeted by President Niinistö himself, Finland’s president describes his phone conversation with the Russian President Vladimir Putin. The statement says:

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President Sauli Niinistö spoke at a press conference at the Finnish Embassy in Washington DC on 4 March 2022. (Sarah Silbiger – STR / Lehtikuva)

PRESIDENT Sauli Niinistö on Thursday reminded that Finland is pursuing Nato membership to maximise its own security.

“Through Nato membership, Finland maximises its own security. It is without detriment to anyone, it is not targeted at anyone. As a member of the alliance, Finland naturally bears its own share of the responsibility for the whole community’s security,” he wrote in a blog post.

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The Finnish public and civil society have limited opportunities to participate in the EU’s legislative process due, for example, to non-transparent decision-making processes in Finland, highlights a report published by the Finnish Innovation Fund (Sitra). (Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva)

THE FINNISH PROCESS on EU legislation is lacking in three respects: promoting public participation, influencing law-making in advance and utilising process data, indicates a report published on Tuesday by the Finnish Innovation Fund (Sitra).

While Finland has sought to promote consensus in order to boost its bargaining power as a small member state, the effort has often come at the expense of public participation.

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Petteri Orpo, the chairperson of the National Coalition, attended a plenary session in the Finnish Parliament on Wednesday, 4 May 2022. Popular support for the right-wing opposition party may remain a touch high due to its long-standing, clear stance on Nato, suggests a pollster interviewed by YLE. (Jussi Nukari – Lehtikuva)

POPULAR SUPPORT for the National Coalition has come down from its all-time high in opinion polls conducted for YLE.

The Finnish public broadcaster revealed yesterday that support for the right-wing opposition party has fallen by two percentage points to 24.1 per cent over the last month. The drop was expected as most political parties have clarified their position on Nato, reminded Tuomo Turja, the research director at Taloustutkimus.

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A timber train crosses the Saimaa Canal on Lauritsala bridge in Finland. Photo: Petritap

Russian State Duma deputy claims Moscow may revise the agreement on the lease of the Saimaa Canal if Finland joins NATO.

In 1962, for the first time in its history, the Soviet Union leased its land to a foreign country — Finland received 19.6 km of the Saimaa Canal. This narrow 43 km long artery connects the biggest Saimaa Lake in the country's southeast with the Baltic Sea and links the industrial centers of the Saimaa region with the European market.

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