The Left Alliance party leader and election candidate Li Andersson and election candidate Jussi Saramo celebrate party's good result at the Left Alliance's European parliament election reception in Helsinki, Finland, on June 9, 2024. Andersson and Saramo will be new members of the European Parliament. LEHTIKUVA

Finland in the world press

Here is a selection of what the international press has published about Finland in the last week:

Leftwing Nordic nations provide ‘ray of hope’ in Europe

The recent European parliamentary elections were covered in an article by The Guardian on June 11.

The article focuses on the surprising surge in support for left-leaning and Green parties in Nordic countries, specifically Finland, Sweden, and Denmark. This development contrasts with the increasing popularity of rightwing parties in larger European nations like France and Germany.

In Finland, the ruling liberal-conservative party remained the largest, but the Left Alliance saw a significant increase, going from one seat to three in the European Parliament. This surge was unexpected and highlighted by the exceptional performance of Li Andersson, the Left Alliance leader, who received a record number of votes. The far-right Finns party, part of Finland's ruling coalition, lost one of their seats.

The article sheds lights on the Finland’s political landscape, which has been marked by the presence of both liberal-conservative and far-right parties. However, the recent elections saw the Left Alliance making significant gains, reflecting a shift in voter sentiment. This party, led by the charismatic Li Andersson, managed to capture a larger portion of the vote, indicating growing support for their progressive platform.

The Finns party, known for its far-right stance, is part of the ruling coalition but experienced a decline in the European elections. The article points it out as a result of possible fatigue or dissatisfaction among voters with their performance in government.

Original story was published by The Guardian on 11.06.2024 and can be found here.

Free contraception helps Finland reduce teenage abortions by 66%

This article about the reduction in teenage abortions in Finland by 66% was published in Reuters on June 3. The article underscores Finland’s proactive measures in sexual health education and contraception access.

Between 2000 and 2023, the number of teenage abortions in Finland fell by 66%, as per a report by THL, a reduction attributed to the provision of free contraception and compulsory sex education in schools

In response to a rise in teenage abortions during the 1990s, Finland made morning-after pills available without prescription from age 15 and mandated sexual education in all schools at the start of the 2000s.

The statistics showed a drop from 2,144 abortions among teenagers under 20 in 2000 to 722 in 2023, with an even more significant 78% decrease among those under 18. The decline was further supported by the introduction of free contraception in many welfare regions during the latter half of the 2010s.

In 2022, Finland liberalized its abortion laws, allowing abortions on request during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy without needing to provide a reason. This change came into effect in September 2023. While the overall number of abortions among Finnish women of all ages saw only a modest decline over the past two decades, there was a slight increase of 2.9% from 2022 to 2023.

Original story was published by Reuters on 03.06.2024 and can be found here.

Finland beefs up artillery capability for coastal defense

Finland’s efforts to enhance its coastal defense capabilities with the planned acquisition of over a dozen self-propelled artillery systems, was covered in an article by Defense News on June 4. The article explores the operational readiness by The Finnish Navy’s Coastal and its focus on mine warfare and maritime combat service support.

The Finnish Logistics Command announced a tender for up to 20 artillery systems, aiming to create a mobile artillery capability dedicated to coastal defense to engage vessels and hostile forces in Finnish territorial waters, including the archipelago.

These artillery systems must have high mobility and compatibility with NATO’s Joint Ballistics Memorandum of Understanding. An option for acquiring six additional systems between 2029-2031 is also included. This move follows Sweden’s recent procurement call for anti-aircraft guns to intercept drones and helicopters on its Combat Boat 90.

These initiatives by Nordic countries are a response to growing concerns over Russia’s activities in the Baltic Sea region, particularly its intentions to expand sea borders around its islands in the Gulf of Finland and around Kaliningrad, which could lead to territorial disputes with NATO countries.

Original story was published by Defense News on 04.06.2024 and can be found here.

Finland offers vaccination against bird flu to those working with poultry, or on fur farms

Finland becoming the first EU country to vaccinate against the H5N1 avian flu, which is currently spreading among U.S. cattle, was covered in an article by Euronews on June 7. Finland will use the Sequirus vaccine, procured at the EU level. The article gives details of the initiative, aiming to preemptively protect those working with poultry and on fur farms.

The initiative is led by Finland’s Infectious Diseases Control and Vaccines Unit under the Institute for Health and Welfare. In 2023, avian flu was widespread in birds and outbreaks occurred among farmed foxes, minks, and raccoons in Finland. Professor Ian Brown from the ‘OFFLU’ network highlighted that while H5N1 does not easily infect humans, its presence in mammals could pose a greater transmission risk.

“This year has been more calm, but we know from the US that the virus is still around, so we want to protect those who are working with animals that might be affected,” Hanna Nohynek, Finland’s chief physician with the Infectious Diseases Control and Vaccines Unit in the Institute for Health and Welfare said.

The Finnish Food Authority has instructed farms to enhance biosecurity measures, and the Finnish National Immunisation Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) has endorsed vaccination for workers in high-risk environments. Despite a calmer situation this year, precautionary measures remain due to the virus’s persistence.

The European Commission’s Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA) has prioritized avian flu, supporting the development of medical countermeasures, including vaccines. This marks the first deployment of the H5N1 vaccine.

Meanwhile, the Lancet editorial criticized the US Department of Agriculture for its slow response to the H5N1 outbreak, calling for urgent actions including improved testing, surveillance, and reporting, and the development and stockpiling of human vaccines.

Original story was published by Euronews on 07.06.2024 and can be found here.

Court summons Mandago in Sh1b Finland education scandal

The summoning of Uasin Gishu Senator Jackson Mandago and two others, Meshack Rono and Joshua Lelei, to the Nakuru Law Courts over the Sh1.1 billion Finland education programme scandal, was covered in an article by The Standard on June 13. The article provides details of the scandal on the alleged theft of Sh1.1 billion from a KCB Bank account in Eldoret, funds designated for the county’s education overseas university fees.

Only Rono and Lelei appeared before Senior Principal Magistrate Peter Ndege, while Mandago was absent. The scandal involves allegations of conspiracy to steal, abuse of office, and forgery related to an education programme purportedly meant to fund overseas university fees for students.

Mandago is accused of abusing his office by entering into agreements with universities in Finland and Canada without county assembly approval. Rono and Lelei are specifically charged with stealing Sh56.5 million from the same bank branch.

The accused were Initially scheduled to appear in court on July 1 for a four-day trial. However, they received a notice from the prosecution, dated June 3, to appear on Wednesday. The prosecution, led by David Okach, was instructed to make an application, but no further instructions were provided by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP). Consequently, Okach requested an adjournment until July 1.

Original story was published by The Standard on 13.06.2024 and can be found here.