Finland. According to
COUNTRYAAH, the country got its first female head of state
when former Foreign Minister Tarja Halonen was elected
president in February. In a second round of elections,
Social Democrat Halonen defeated center leader Esko Aho with
51.6% of the vote, against 48.4%. A majority of rural voters
supported Aho, while Halonen took the most votes in Helsinki
and other major cities in the south. Halonen received
particularly strong voting support among women and trade
Outgoing President Martti Ahtisaari had decided not to
stand for election for a second six-year term because his
own Social Democratic Party did not want to nominate him as
When Halonen took office in March, a new constitution
came into force, reducing the president's traditional
influence. The president can no longer play the leading role
in foreign policy that former heads of state could do. Now
mandatory "consultation with the Cabinet" applies, ie.
government. In addition, EU policy is entirely run by the
Since a central settlement in the labor market had failed
at the beginning of the year, sectoral wage negotiations
were conducted with a number of conflict threats.
The Chemical Workers' Union went on strike in March,
which meant production stoppages in the chemical base
industry and in the oil, gas and petrochemicals industry.
The threat to the social economy caused the employer side to
reluctantly agree to a 3.9% wage increase after a week's
conflict. Directly following the chemical conflict, a
transport workers' strike followed, and in April the entire
Finnish paper industry was paralyzed. 30,000 workers went on
strike demanding, among other things, 4.6% wage increase.
Europe's largest paper company, the Swedish-Finnish Stora
Enso, estimated the losses to be more than SEK 40 million.
per day. The strike was canceled after just over a week,
after the parties agreed to a three-year agreement with a 4%
pay raise for the current year.
In June, the Riksdag voted to tighten the Aliens Act.
Asylum seekers may in the future be rejected five days after
the Immigration Service's decision without a appeal being
processed. The issue was very much debated and the
The coalition's small parties wanted a milder line, but
social democrats and moderates voted through the law with
the support of opposition center parties.
In June, the Riksdag decided to sell the state's majority
shares in the telecom company Sonera. At that time, the
former state-owned telecommunications company was already
the second largest on the Helsinki Stock Exchange, where at
the beginning of the year, the mobile phone giant Nokia
accounted for about 60% of the total market capitalization.
Nokia's share price fell sharply during the summer but rose
in the fall, as the company's sales had increased by 50%
during the third quarter. In the autumn, the Swiss World
Economic Forum presented a ranking list of the
competitiveness of the world's economies, where Finland was
placed in first place. The Finnish business climate was
described as the best in the world. One of the Finnish
industries that performed best during the year was the
Since the parliamentary elections in March 1999, Finland
had held both EU and presidential elections when it was time
for municipal elections in October 2000. Interest was
moderate, with only 55.8% of voters taking part. The Center
made its best choice since the fifties and gained 23.8%
against the Social Democrats 23% and the Socialist Party's
20.8%. The Greens had great success and received a quarter
of the votes in Helsinki.