Jussi Halla-aho, the chairperson of the Finns Party, was photographed during a question-time debate in the Finnish Parliament in Helsinki on 3 October 2019. (Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva)

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THE FINNS PARTY has reinforced its position as the most popular political party in Finland, according to a new poll by Alma Media.

The populist, right-wing opposition party is presently polling at 20.4 per cent – 0.3 percentage points higher than in the previous poll – and has a lead of 3.2 percentage points over both the Social Democrats and National Coalition.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the poll is the resurgence of the Social Democrats, which has seen its approval rating improve by one percentage point since June. YLE, by contrast, reported one week ago that the party has lost 1.3 percentage points of popular support since September.

Another noticeable difference between the two polls is the popularity of the Centre. While Alma Media found that the popularity of the party has declined over the past few months to 12.5 per cent, the public broadcasting company wrote that the party has gained a considerably boost in support following its leadership election early last month.

Jenni Karimäki, a senior researcher at the University of Turku’s Centre for Parliamentary Studies, suggested the Centre – as the holder of the minister of finance’s portfolio – should brace itself for a rough couple of years given the bleak outlook for economic growth in Finland.

The Finns Party, she analysed, has reinforced its position largely because it continues to be perceived as a protest party and because the conservative values it represents strike a stark contrast with those of the liberal parties in the government of Prime Minister Antti Rinne (SDP).

“Public disappointment with the prevalent policy direction is being channelled into the Finns Party,”said Karimäki.

The National Coalition has contrastively languished in the opposition for having to defend the same, strict economic policies it did as a ruling party. “It’s enough for a nice, 17-per-cent approval rating, but it’s difficult to increase popularity with the old message,” she explained.

The Green League has benefited from the ongoing, at times heated, climate debate – even though the government has come under some heavy criticism for not finding an agreement on more potent climate actions in its recent budget session. If it appears that the government continues to spin its wheels on climate issues, it is possible that the public opinion will turn on the Greens, according to Karimäki.

“The Greens would stand to lose the most given that it has embodied climate themes,” she said.

The poll was conducted between 17 September and 8 October by Tietoykkönen. A total of 1,500 people were interviewed.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi

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