Now Rinne is likely to start looking for a government capable of holding a majority

Now Rinne is likely to start looking for a government capable of holding a majority

Finland wants to protect the ability of the British to live, work and study in the country in the future.

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä told the STT news agency on Wednesday that he would urge all Brits living in Finland to register their right of residence with the immigration authorities as soon as possible if they have not already done so. The decisive factor is that all of the approximately 5,000 British people in the country could continue to live in Finland without an agreement, even in the event of a British exit from the EU. In Finland you have to register with the immigration office if you are in the country for more than three months – regardless of where you are from.

The British House of Commons voted with a clear majority against Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit agreement with the EU on Tuesday evening. Two and a half months before the British are planning to leave the EU, there are concerns about an unregulated Brexit. In response to the vote, Sipilä wrote on Twitter that the vote was unfortunate but not a surprise. Finland is also taking precautions in the event of a Brexit without an agreement.

The Finnish government announced its resignation shortly before the parliamentary elections. In doing so, she draws the conclusions from the failed reform of the health system.

The Finnish government submitted its resignation around five weeks before the upcoming parliamentary elections. Prime Minister Juha Sipilä wanted to ask President Sauli Niinistö on Friday morning to approve the departure of the cabinet, the government announced. Later Sipilä wanted to comment on this at a press conference. 

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 The reason for the departure is a failed social and care reform. The Finnish broadcaster Yle reported that the ruling parties had come to the conclusion that there was not enough time to pass a legislative package for the reform before the April 14 election. Sipilä had described the reform several times as the most important and largest project of his government.

Helsinki (dpa) – The Social Democrats have become the strongest force in the parliamentary elections in Finland, but have only left the right-wing populist party The Finns behind by a minimal lead of almost 7,000 votes.

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It was the Finnish Social Democrats’ first election victory in 20 years. For the first time in a long time, they now have the opportunity to head a Finnish government. However, the formation of a government is unlikely to be easy.

According to preliminary figures, the Social Democrats came to 17.7 percent and 40 of the 200 parliamentary seats in the vote on Sunday. They were just ahead of the right-wing populists (17.5 percent, 39 seats) and the conservatives (17.0 percent, 38 seats). The liberal center party of the previous Prime Minister Juha Sipilä fell by 7.3 points to a meager 13.8 percent, 31 seats and fourth place. Greens and leftists gained seats.

The social democratic top candidate Antti Rinne announced that he would like to create a government coalition by the end of May and, if possible, before the European elections on May 26th. After initial exploratory talks, he said in Helsinki on Monday that the negotiations could be easier than expected. Unemployment, education and taxes are right at the top of the agenda of a government led by social democrats. The 56-year-old initially left it open which parties he would like to bring on board.

The Social Democrats were the favorites and had hoped for an even stronger result. There are still several options open to the gutter. It is considered likely that he will form an alliance with the Greens and the Swedish People’s Party. Perhaps the left will join in too.

For a parliamentary majority, however, Rinne is dependent on one of the larger parties as an additional partner. The head of the conservative rally party, Petteri Orpo, said it was entirely possible to find a basis for a coalition with the Social Democrats. Sipilä, on the other hand, has so far left it open whether he would prefer to see his center in the opposition.

With the right-wing populists, there are political overlaps for the Social Democrats on some social issues, but given the position of the Finnish party on immigration and climate change, such cooperation would be a big surprise. Rinne said that Jussi Halla-aho, the head of the right-wing populists, and he had significantly different values. Halla-aho stated: “We are ready to work with anyone, but not at any cost.”

The election expert Juha Tervala expected that Rinne would approach the conservatives rather than the liberals on the way to a majority. A common basis with the conservatives could be found in foreign and environmental policy, while the views on tax and labor market policy diverged, said the researcher from the University of Helsinki of the German press agency.

Migration expert Katarina Pettersson pointed out that no party received at least 20 percent of the vote. That is very unusual in Finland. It seems to be becoming increasingly clear that with the Social Democrats, Conservatives and the Center there are no longer just three large parties, but now four medium-sized parties including the right-wing populists. “That will make forming a government and making decisions more difficult,” said Pettersson.

The performance of the right-wing populists is also interesting with regard to the European elections: The Finnish party, along with the German AfD and the Italian Lega, is one of the parties that want to form a new alliance of right-wing populists in the EU Parliament. This is not the only reason why the Finnish election marginally affects the EU. On July 1, Finland will also take on the rotating presidency of the EU Council.

Then the country will be led by a social democrat, said the social democratic group leader in the European Parliament, Udo Bullmann. After years of unclear and partly right-wing populist government work, “the good Finnish tradition of pragmatic, decidedly Europe-friendly politics” can now be tied in with. “That gives hope far beyond Finland,” said Bullmann.

Copenhagen (dpa) – The US authorities worry about a contagious brain disease in elk and other game.

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The so-called Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), often called “zombie disease”, has now attacked deer and elk in 24 US states and two Canadian provinces, according to the CDC. The high-ranking researcher Michael Osterholm warned that transmission to humans cannot be ruled out. While Norway is taking various measures against CWD, German experts are currently not getting upset.

CWD is a contagious prion disease similar to mad cow disease (BSE) and scrapie in sheep. It attacks the central nervous system and ensures that infected animals become more and more emaciated and limp – hence the nickname zombie disease. Cases in which CWD has been transmitted to humans or pets are not yet known.

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In April 2016, CWD was first detected in a reindeer in Norway outside of North America and South Korea. Further positive results followed later. In Finland, there have been no new cases since January 2018, when the disease was found in a dead elk and thus for the first time within the EU.

Now researcher Osterholm has started the discussion about transmission to humans. This was previously considered unlikely. The US agency CDC also continues to write: “So far there have been no cases of CWD infection in humans.” However, studies have suggested that some non-human primate species may be at risk.

Osterholm’s warning was drastic, however. “It is likely that human cases of CWD associated with the consumption of contaminated meat will be documented in the coming years,” he said in the Minnesota State Parliament earlier this month. It is possible that human cases increased and were not isolated events, added the director of the Center for Infectious Diseases at the University of Minnesota.

“Should we eat infected game? What is the risk? We have no evidence of human cases. But the problem with that is delayed occurrence,” said the scientist, referring to his years of research on BSE. You can only determine later whether someone has become infected. “We cannot wait for the first cases.”

Is that scare tactics or justified worry? The Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut announces that, according to studies, there appears to be a significant species barrier in the transmission of CWD to humans. There is also no evidence of CWD transmissions to humans. “According to the current state of scientific knowledge, a transmission of CWD to humans cannot be ruled out with absolute certainty, but the risk for this can be assumed to be extremely low,” said the institute.

The German Hunting Association does not believe that the CWD could get to Germany. “It is unlikely that it will be brought in via the natural route, via animals. It is also unlikely that Scandinavian or North American vacationers or hunters bring in these prions through contaminated clothes,” says spokesman Torsten Reinwald. And the prion disease in humans remains Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, CWD is not transmissible.

The disease is observed very closely in Norway. A year ago, more than 1,400 wild reindeer were shot dead in the Nordfjella region after CWD was found in 17 of the animals. To date, more than 70,000 animals have been examined.

“Norway has gone to great lengths to eradicate CWD, but we don’t know if we’ve done it yet,” the Ministry of Agriculture said today. Karen Lone from the Norwegian Environment Agency also says: “We are fighting this disease.” For years, the disease must be concretely tackled and researched into it. To date, the disease has been found in 19 reindeer, four moose and one red deer. However, the type of CWD in elk and deer was not the same as the classic in reindeer. “This is an important distinction. There is no connection between the reindeer and the other animals.”

And man? “A panel of experts has examined the risk to humans. The risk is very small, but cannot be ruled out,” says Lone. Norway knows that the zombie disease is in the environment. “But we don’t know how much. It will be years before we know for sure whether we have got rid of the disease.”

It’s been 20 years since the Social Democrats won the parliamentary elections. Now they succeed by a narrow margin. The government negotiations should be anything but a walk in the park.

According to preliminary figures, the Social Democrats around their chairman Antti Rinne won the parliamentary elections in Finland by a narrow margin. The party got 40 of the 200 seats in the Finnish parliament after counting 100 percent of the votes on Monday night. The Finnish Ministry of Justice announced that the preliminary calculations have been completed. The official final result should be published by Wednesday.

Rinne said his party had become the strongest force in Finland for the first time since 1999. He wants to form a government by the end of May.

The right-wing populist party The Finns and the conservative National Collection Party came in second and third with 39 and 38 seats, respectively. The previous Prime Minister Juha Sipilä and his liberal Center Party came in fourth with heavy losses and 31 seats.

“I would not have expected such a result, nobody would have expected this,” said the ultra-right leader of the party The Finns, Jussi Halla-aho, on Sunday evening. According to the partial results, his party is only 0.1 percentage point behind the Social Democrats. During the election campaign, The Finns focused on an alleged security risk posed by immigrants.

None of the parties got a fifth of the vote – this is unusual in Finland. The provisional 17.7 percent is still an increase of 1.2 percentage points for the Social Democrats compared to the 2015 parliamentary election. You last won a parliamentary election in 1999 and, until 2003, appointed the Prime Minister for the last time.

Now Rinne is likely to start looking for a government capable of holding a majority. It will not be an easy undertaking for the 56-year-old: Despite the gains made by his social democrats, the Greens and the left, a left government alliance would not have a majority. Rinne is also likely to approach one of the other major parties, probably towards Sipilä’s center. An alliance with the right-wing populists is not ruled out, but is considered unlikely.

The result is also decisive for the EU elections

The strong performance of the right-wing populists with their provisional 17.5 percent is also interesting with regard to the European elections on May 26th: Alongside the German AfD and the Italian Lega, the Finnish party is one of the parties that form a new alliance of right-wing populists in the EU Parliament want to form.