The F-18 Hornet jets of the Finnish Air Force have been in service since 1995.The majority of Finns are prepared to step up defence spending in the next Parliament.

More than one in four, or 27 per cent, of respondents to a survey by Helsingin Sanomat reported that they fully agree and nearly one in three, or 32 per cent, that they partly agree on stepping up defence spending over the next four years.

A similar majority indicated that the next Parliament should consider granting an in-principle decision to replace the ageing fighter jets of the Finnish Air Force.

The survey was carried out by TNS Gallup.

The respondents were also asked about their opinions on developing a joint defence system for the European Union. The share of Finns who support the the joint defence system has crept up by 15 percentage points over the past 12 months to 38 per cent, while 50 per cent of Finns continue to oppose it, according to the survey.

Supporters of the National Coalition and the Green League, in particular, indicated their support for the joint defence system, although in general party preferences had only a limited effect on the opinions of respondents. On the other hand, respondents who believe the country should join Nato also appeared more willing to establish a joint defence system for the EU.

Elsewhere, 72 per cent of respondents voiced their support for holding a national referendum on the possible Nato membership of Finland.

The respondents were asked to indicate the extent of their agreement with five statements on the schedule and border conditions for the possible application process. A narrow majority, or 54 per cent, of Finns believe Finland should refrain from applying for Nato membership also in the event that Sweden took steps toward joining the defence alliance, the survey found.

A narrow majority similarly estimated that the hostilities in Ukraine have no bearing on the possible Nato membership of Finland. The possible Nato membership of Sweden, in turn, was considered significant for Finland only by eight per cent of respondents.

A quarter of respondents identified the credibility of the national defence system as the most significant factor in considering the possible Nato membership.

The share of Finns who are prepared to put the issue to a referendum has remained equivalent to that measured in late 2011. The survey found that support for the referendum decreases the further south the respondents live and the higher their income and education level.

Also most supporters of the National Coalition are prepared to put the issue to a referendum, the survey found.

TNS Gallup conducted a total of 1,006 phone interviews for the survey between 16 and 27 February. The margin of error of the survey is three percentage points.

Juha-Pekka Raeste – HS
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Finnish Air Force