THE ADVANTAGE of the National Coalition over other political parties has continued to widen in the wave of the municipal elections held in Finland on 13 June.
YLE on Friday wrote that popular support for the right-wing opposition party increased by 0.8 percentage points to 21.3 per cent during the course of August, providing the party with a 2.6-point advantage over second-placed Social Democratic Party (18.7%).
The Finns Party was the third most popular choice in the poll, receiving the nod of 17.6 per cent of the 1,705 respondents who disclosed their party of preference. Although support for the opposition party has slid moderately, it appears that the party has been overall unaffected by the handing-of-the-reins from Jussi Halla-aho to Riikka Purra.
Tuomo Turja, the managing director of Taloustutkimus, stated to the public broadcasting company that the polling data on the party indicates a drop in popularity among male voters. Taloustutkimus interviewed a total of 2,369 people for the poll on 4–31 August.
“The Finns Party’s drop in support arises almost completely from men. But among women, the popularity has crept up slightly,” he commented.
Support for the Finns Party has nonetheless fallen significantly in the past years, as the party was polling ahead of all other parties with an approval rating of 21.9 per cent at the beginning of the year. The National Coalition, on the other hand, was languishing in third place with an approval rating of barely over 16 per cent.
The power balance shifted in the run-up to the municipal elections. The National Coalition also appears to have the struggle between its liberal and conservative wings, enabling voters from both ends of the spectrum to re-affirm their support for the party.
“The National Coalition has risen on the back of people who’ve previously voted for the Finns Party, Centre and Greens. Ex-Greens voters appear to be shifting toward the National Coalition in slightly higher numbers than in recent times,” said Turja.
The upcoming budget session has had a negative impact especially on the Left Alliance. The left-wing ruling party recorded the largest drop in popularity in the poll, falling from 8.6 to 7.6 per cent in August.
Turja pointed out, though, that those who withdrew their support for the party have also been reluctant to voice their support for any other party.
The Green League was the only ruling party to make notable gains in the poll, climbing by 0.5 points to 11.4 per cent. The party has received publicity with its demands for concrete decisions on climate action at the budget session and for raising the refugee quota in light of the unexpected crisis in Afghanistan.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto (Greens) also had a visible role in the mission to evacuate people from Kabul.
No dramatic changes were registered in the approval ratings of the Centre (12.2%), Swedish People’s Party (4.4%) or Christian Democrats (3.3%). Support for Now Movement, however, jumped by 0.7 points to 2.5 per cent.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT