THE POLITICAL LEADERSHIP of Finland, which continues to contemplate submitting a membership application to Nato, can lean on clear and growing public support for the membership, indicates a survey commissioned by YLE.
YLE on Monday revealed that public support for pursuing membership in the defence alliance has surged from 53 per cent in February to 62 per cent in March and to 76 per cent in May.
The proportion of respondents who oppose the membership has decreased from 28 to 12 per cent and that of respondents who are unsure about the issue from 19 to 11 per cent.
If Sweden decided to apply for the membership, the level of support would increase to 83 per cent. The Finnish political leadership publicly expressing its backing for the membership would have an almost equivalent impact, raising the level of support to 82 per cent.
The divide between the views of men and women has narrowed, with 81 per cent of men and 72 per cent of women presently in favour of joining Nato. The percentages have risen by 10 and 19 percentage points, respectively, since March.
Public support for the membership has increased during the course of this spring across the political spectrum, according to YLE.
Supporters of the National Coalition remain almost without exception in favour of joining the defence alliance. Pro-Nato views are common also among supporters of the Centre and Swedish People’s Party.
The Social Democratic Party, the main ruling party in Finland, is to clarify its stance on the issue when its party council convenes on 14 May. Supporters of the party are already widely for the membership, with 81 per cent of them estimating that Finland should join Nato. The share has risen notably, from roughly 45 per cent in February and 50 per cent in March.
“Support for Nato among SDP supporters has risen by as much as 30 percentage points, which can be viewed as a pretty wild development. A major change has taken place also among supporters of the Left Alliance, with a clear majority of [them] now in favour of Nato membership,” commented Jari Pajunen, the managing director of Taloustutkimus.
Li Andersson, the chairperson of the Left Alliance, on Saturday announced the party would not leave the government if it submitted the membership application, signalling a major turnabout from the long-standing position of the party.
Taloustutkimus interviewed 1,270 people for the survey on 4–6 May.
Only 15 per cent of Finns, the survey also found, are presently of the opinion that a referendum should be organised on the membership issue. Almost four-fifths of respondents stated their opposition to holding a referendum.
In February, nearly half of respondents were opposed to and two-fifths supportive of the idea of a referendum.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT