The 2 main newspapers here in Helsinki, Helsingin Sanomat and Kauppalehti are owned by a few very rich families who also exercise a considerable amount of influence in the Confederation of Finnish Industry, called EK.
EK is the place where the owners and CEO’s of the biggest companies sit together and decide on what sort of wage increases trade unions can receive. They probably decide a few other things amongst themselves because Finland is a gold medal holder in the world for the highest number of virtual monopolies in the country. In each of the main sectors of the economy there are two to four big companies that have market shares together of around 70% to 80% of their respective markets. The bosses of these companies have a major interest in ensuring they continued good health.
EK has always been a rather very influential player in politics but they have generally not been as proactively aggressive in their political activities as they are today.
Most of the MPs from the Conservative and Centre Parties have received generous election financing from the key member companies of EK, and although there are discussions between EK and these parties, there has seldom been much open and direct control through the press or through the parties to topple any government when the Centre party or the Conservative party are in opposition.
This last week the main newspapers here covered stories from a former senior representative of EK. He claimed that EK was actively involved in toppling Prime Minister’s Rinne’s Government a few months ago by spreading stories about his honesty, incompetence or poor management.
In this weekend’s newspaper, there was an interview of the head of EK’s “think tank” (read lobby group Jr.), a former chief economist at Nordea, the largest bank in the Nordic countries, who said that he expects to see the collapse of this new government because they cannot fulfil all of the objectives in their manifesto. Nordea Bank and its main owners are naturally “Very Important People” in EK.
This newspaper doubts that this man created the story for publication in this newspaper without the nod from EK.
Just like the spread of the Corona virus, it appears that bad Trumpian habits are now spreading from the USA to Finland. Such behaviour is not what we expect from people who should know better. It is not the job of the employers nor of the trade unions to make politics, that we should leave to our elected representatives.
Finland has elected a government barely 1 year ago and it is clearly in the public interest that the political parties should try to cooperate in a proactive way because we are now faced with the trade chaos that Trump has created with all of the uncertainty created by the coronavirus.