Emergency gov't sit-down, prof questions security threat, "activation" spikes disability pensions

Dramatic headlines dominate dailies this Tuesday as the Centre Party sits down for crisis talks, a military professor downplays the threat of foreign land ownership and disability pension applications are on the rise.

The country is astir this Tuesday with news of a rift between two of Finland's government parties, caused by last Friday's fraught decision to allow Timo Soini to continue as Foreign Minister and by claims of voting pressure within Parliament .

Tabloid Iltalehti is first to report that Centre Party Parliamentary group chair Antti Kaikkonen has called an emergency meeting of MPs at Prime Minister Juha Sipilä's residence Kesäranta. The meeting at 5 pm on Tuesday is set to tackle the strife between the Centre Party and government partner National Coalition Party, while low popularity and the messy schedule of the country-wide health care reform bring clouds to the talks.

IL details the brief history of the discord, including the reported incident of the NCP's Parliamentary group chair Kalle Jokinen called PM Sipilä out for "belittling [the NCP's] values" and the premier replying with a similar qualm.

"We were being dragged into a value corner where we don't belong. This is a part of politics I will never understand. It is disgusting, transparent manipulation," Sipilä is quoted as speaking on Saturday.

IL writes that the Centre Party's worry is that their long-term game plan of running through the nationwide "sote" reform faces renewed risks with the intra-governmental spat. If the Constitutional Law Committee becomes tied up in new intelligence legislation being pushed in Parliament , there will be no time to fix the "sote" reform, long promised by the government coalition.

National security threats "overstated"

Another news story dominating the papers is the aftermath of last weekend's sizeable police operation in the Turku archipelago . With Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö promising to curtail foreign ownership of Finnish real estate and the National Bureau of Investigation knee-deep in the Airiston Helmi case, one specialist urges cooler heads when it comes to assessing national security threats.

Military professor Jyri Raitasalo from the National Defence University says in Helsingin Sanomat that it would be best to avoid overstating the national security risk, and to not confuse security scenarios with political policies.

"This discussion currently involves too much speculation and nameless sources," Raitasalo says in HS. "There isn't reason enough yet to change our societal threat assessments."

In a nutshell, the professor says, it is good that the real estate legislation is going through for the sake of flexibility and government's right of first refusal in land ownership cases – but that the NBI operation in Turku is irrelevant to the development of the law change.

Flood of disability applications after "activation" model

Turning finally to the repercussions of an earlier legal maneuver, local paper Turun Sanomat reports that as a result of government's so-called activation model – an attempt to lower unemployment by making jobless people seek and accept work on a mandatory minimum basis, or risk losing benefits – has caused a sharp rise in the amount of applications for disability pensions. The numbers at national health care organisation Kela have risen by 10 percent above the normal rate.

TS writes that the scenario was foreseen before the law change, as the activation requisites were not designed to affect job seekers who have applied for disability. Senior physician Jukka Kivekäs from the pension insurance firm Varma (with 14 percent more applications than usual) says in the paper that people apply for disability benefits for many reasons.

"About half of these [600 extra applications] are due to the activation model," Kivekäs says. "When someone who has been listed as long-term unemployed applies for disability, that is a typical reaction to the effects of the model."

Kivekäs also says that during periods of growth many long-term jobless people may find themselves working again, only to realise their health will no longer allow it.

"In some cases the disability pension is a better bet," says Kela's disability assessment chief Matti Hynninen.

Read more news of Helsinki on our site.

If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
2 views in december
I recommend
No recommendations yet


Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

The ministry also wants the national communications regulator to determine whether Trafi's other consumer services can be safely restored on Wednesday. The Ministry of Transport and Communications has asked the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority Ficora, to assess data privacy and security on the web services of the Finnish Transport Safety Agency, Trafi. The request follows a recent public backlash to Trafi's decision to open an online database wh...
Taking a train between Finland and Estonia will be possible by Christmas 2024, says the entrepreneur behind one of two massive tunnel projects being planned. Last week the FinEst Bay Area Helsinki-Tallinn tunnel project received 100 million euros from a Dubai-based construction group ARJ Holding – the first external financing made towards the estimated 15-billion-euro effort. Peter Vesterbacka - a man who made a fortune as a marketing boss at mobile gaming...
Several protest marches took place in Helsinki on Thursday evening. Police intervened to forcibly remove swastika flags from Neo-Nazi demonstrators. Police said on Thursday that they will open an investigation into neo-Nazis flying swastika flags in downtown Helsinki. Four protesters had reportedly been taken into police custody. Two processions made their way through Helsinki city centre Thursday evening. The neo-Nazi Kohti vapautta ('toward freedom') dem...
Most of Friday’s papers focus on Thursday's gala at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki where Finland's movers, shakers and honourees were invited to celebrate the nation’s 101 years of independence. Traditionally, media attention has centered on the best-dressed guests and this year was no exception. According to tabloid Ilta-Sanomat, among the most elegant invitees this year was MP Jaana Pelkonen, who wore a bright yellow sleeveless dress by French desig...
Helsinki handed over five decommissioned trams on Monday, two of which will make their way to the Mikkeli city centre for display. Helsinki City Transport (HKL) handed over five antique trams to new owners on Monday after a competition to see where the decommissioned vehicles would be best suited. The HKL competition prompted 94 applications from across the country to receive the trams free of charge. Three of the trams will remain in Helsinki, while two w...
People in Finland are prescribed more antibiotics than the EU average, police warn of neo-Nazi marches and the Finland 100 satellite blasted off. Finnish medical patients use broad-spectrum antibiotics more commonly than the EU average, even though bacteria in Finland are not especially resistant to antibiotic treatments. Daily Helsingin Sanomat writes that attacking a large number of different bacteria at once is all too common, and may lead to resistance...
This year's Finnish National Prize went to a rock star, a fashion designer, a film director and others for their contributions to cultural life in Finland. The Finnish National Prize, an annual cultural award from the Ministry of Education and Culture, went to Henry "Remu" Aaltonen, the drummer and vocalist of the 1970s band Hurriganes; the fashion designer behind Ivana Helsinki, Paola Suhonen; and Academy Award nominated director Selma Vilhunen. This year...
Artist's impression of the proposed Tallinn-Helsinki tunnel
Dubai engineering solutions giant ARJ Holding Ltd is investing €100 million in the Tallinn-Helsinki tunnel project, tunnel designer Peter Vesterbacka announced at a press conference on Monday. Mr Vesterbacka, chief of FinEst Bay Area, the group behind the tunnel project, pointed out the total cost of the tunnel stands at €15 billion, with an investment period of 30 years; the tunnel itself has a projected life span of 120 years, he said. Finest Bay Area Le...
The volume of permits for apartment buildings plunged by more than half, a likely harbinger of an economic slowdown next year. Construction work for the Tripla complex in Helsinki's Pasila district. Image: Jyrki Lyytikkä / Yle An exceptionally low number of new construction permits were granted from June to September, says Statistics Finland. Volume was down by 25.4 percent from a year earlier.  The biggest drop was in commercial and office buildings, wher...