President Sauli Niinistö would be a shoo-in for re-election if the presidential elections were held today, suggests an opinion poll commissioned by Helsingin Sanomat.
The daily reports that the incumbent president is the most popular candidate among the supporters of the six largest political parties in Finland – the National Coalition, Green League, Centre, Social Democrats, Finns Party and Left Alliance – despite the fact that all of the parties have effectively nominated their own candidate for the elections scheduled for January, 2018.
Niinistö is according to the newspaper projected to win 68 per cent of the ballot in the first round of voting, making a second round unnecessary.
He won the 2012 presidential elections as the candidate of the National Coalition but announced in May he will establish a constituency association to effectively seek re-election as an independent candidate.
The Green League’s candidate for the elections, Pekka Haavisto, is projected to receive 42 per cent and Niinistö 49 per cent of the votes cast by responders who identified themselves as supporters of the opposition party. Haavisto made it to the second round of voting in the previous presidential elections before losing soundly to Niinistö with a 37 per cent share of the ballot.
He is currently projected to receive 13 per cent of the vote. Both Niinistö and Haavisto have a clear advantage over the other candidates in the race, who are projected to receive no more than 2–3 per cent of the ballot.
Left Alliance supporters are 39 per cent likely to back the incumbent president, 38 per cent likely to back Haavisto and 17 per cent likely to back the party’s own candidate, Merja Kyllönen, the poll also found.
The odds seem even slimmer for the presidential candidate of the Centre Party, Matti Vanhanen, who received the nod from only 12 per cent of the party’s supporters. Over four-fifths (81%) of the party’s supporters indicated that they would rather cast their vote for Niinistö.
Finns Party supporters would similarly prefer the incumbent president over their own candidate, Laura Huhtasaari, with 44 per cent of them revealing that they would back Niinistö and 37 per cent that they would back Huhtasaari.
Niinistö’s popularity is “shockingly” high among supporters of major political parties in Finland, Johanna Vuorelma, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki, commented to Helsingin Sanomat.
A wide variety of options, she reminded, is a sign of a healthy democracy.
Vuorelma estimated that the results of the poll are a bitter pill to swallow for many parties even though the campaigning is only gradually beginning. The candidates are expected to face off in the first election debate on 30 October.
A total of 944 18–79-year-old people were interviewed for the poll by Kantar TNS between 4 and 14 September. The poll has a margin of error of approximately +/-3 per cent.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi