September 24, 2023

Video emerges of Vladimir Putin in shell suit on 1990s Finland trip

Putin seen playing table tennis and accompanying then mayor of St Petersburg on fishing tripVideo footage has emerged showing an awkward-looking Vladimir Putin wearing a shell suit and sporting a longer haircut on a visit to Finland during the early 1990s.The Finnish broadcaster YLE obtained the previously unseen amateur film from an anonymous source. It was shot on a May Day holiday soon after Putin – then about 40 and a KGB officer – had become an adviser to Anatoly Sobchak, the mayor of St Petersburg at the time. Continue reading...
September 21, 2023

The Guardian view on Europe’s politics: volatile and drifting rightwards

New research exposes the growing influence of the radical right on more mainstream forces. A counteroffensive is overdueThe taxation of property in the eastern German state of Thuringia would normally be a subject of strictly local concern. But last week a vote to cut stamp duty in the regional parliament in Erfurt made national headlines. Ignoring a cross-party taboo on collaborating with the far-right Alternative für Deutschland party, local Christian Democrats and liberals co-opted its support to force the measure through. Loud condemnation duly followed. But with the AfD running second in national polls, there are grounds for fearing that this will not be the last occasion on which the cordon sanitaire surrounding the party is breached.The Thuringia vote is just one sign of changing and volatile times in European politics, as the radical right expands its influence on the mainstream. New PopuList research by 100 political scientists in 31 countries, reported in our new digital Europe edition, finds that almost one-third of Europeans voted for anti-establishment parties in national elections held last year. Half of that number voted for the far right, which is increasing its vote share among these disaffected voters most rapidly. Illiberal, nationalist parties hold power in Italy, Hungary and Poland. They have a share of it in Finland and Sweden and anti-establishment forces have every chance of acquiring it in forthcoming elections in the Netherlands and Slovakia. Austria’s Freedom party, ostracised at the time of its emergence in the 1990s, is well ahead in the polls, with elections due next year. Continue reading...
September 20, 2023

Is Finland the best place in the world to be a parent? – video

Finland is a world leader when it comes to early years education. Childcare is affordable and nursery places are universally available in a system that puts children's rights at the centre of decision-making.Now the country is applying the same child-first thinking to paternity-leave policies in an attempt to tackle gender inequality in parenting. The Guardian's Alexandra Topping travels to Helsinki to find out why the UK pre-school system lags so far behind and whether it really is easier to be a parent in Finland. Continue reading...
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