The National Coalition (NCP) has convinced the public of the merits of its policies more successfully than the Centre and the Finns Party, suggests the fact that voter support for the opposition parties has slipped according to a recent poll by Helsingin Sanomat.
Support for the NCP, in contrast, has crept up from the 20.5 per cent measured between May and June to 22.1 per cent, its highest reading in a poll by the daily since April 2012.
Yet, the popularity was not exactly obvious on Sunday as Heikki Aittojoki, the deputy chairperson of a Helsinki-based NCP organisation, stood alone by an NCP tent at Ylä-Malmi Marketplace. “One went to church and the other left his mobile phone home,” he explained the absence of his comrades.
He did, however, have time to contemplate the reasons for the recent resurgence of the NCP, concluding that “smart, young” leaders are responsible for the upward trend.
Juhani Pehkonen, a research director at TNS Gallup, estimates that the reason for the popularity is that the NCP and its newly-appointed chairperson, Prime Minister Alexander Stubb, have managed to hold on to the media limelight during the summer.
The newly-appointed Minister of Finance, Antti Rinne of the Social Democrats (SDP), has contrastively failed to inspire a resurgence of party support, with the poll showing that support for the SDP continues to stand at 14.9 per cent.
The resurgence of the NCP and its success in May's European elections are both attributable to the same phenomenon: low voter turnout. While the same also applies to the Left Alliance, its support rating has increased from the 7.5 to 9.3 per cent over the past roughly six months largely as a result of its withdrawal from the Government.
Another dramatic change in the poll is the fact that voter support for the Finns Party has slid to its two-year nadir of 15.9 per cent. Timo Soini, the chairperson of the opposition party, has not been particularly visible and, at the time of the poll, expressed his support for the air strikes conducted by Israel in Gaza in an interview with Helsingin Sanomat.
In contrast, Juha Sipilä, the chairperson of the Centre, has seen support for his party surge from 13.2 per cent in the previous parliamentary elections to as high as 23 per cent late last year. This year, however, support for the opposition party has declined, first to 20.3 per cent in May—June and then to 19.9 per cent in July—August.
Similarly to Soini, Sipilä has not made any notable contributions to the national debate.
Teemu Luukka, Juha Roppola – HS
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
© HELSINGIN SANOMAT
Photo: Rio Gandara