THE DIFFERENCE between the National Coalition and Social Democrats shrank by a percentage point to four points between June and July.
Helsingin Sanomat on Saturday reported that popular support for the right-wing opposition party has decreased by half a point to 23.9 per cent since June. Support for the Social Democrats, in turn, has crept up by half a point to 19.9 per cent, giving it an over five-point lead over third-place Finns Party.
Sakari Nurmela, the research director at Kantar TNS, viewed that the National Coalition is losing support partly because the Finns Party voters who shifted their support for it at the onset of the Nato debate are reaffirming their support for the Finns Party. Support for the Finns Party rose by 0.2 points from the previous month to 14.7 per cent, remaining well below the over 20-per-cent readings witnessed before the departure of former chairperson Jussi Halla-aho.
The National Coalition appears to be relatively unaffected by the controversy surrounding Wille Rydman (NCP), a second-term Member of the Parliament from Helsinki. Helsingin Sanomat in June reported that the 36-year-old lawmaker has been accused of harassment by several young women.
The National Bureau of Investigation (KRP) announced last week it has opened a pre-trial investigation into an unspecified sex crime that is believed to have occurred in 2015. Rydman has denied the allegations and lodged a request for inquiry into Helsingin Sanomat.
“The case doesn’t seem to have at least a major direct impact on support for the National Coalition,” said Nurmela.
He also drew attention to the fact that the ruling coalition has enjoyed the support of at least 50 per cent of the public throughout its tenure. Support for the five ruling parties rose by almost a point to 53.6 per cent over the past month, driven especially by a jump of 0.9 points in support for the Green League (9.8%).
The Left Alliance and Swedish People’s Party registered gains of 0.2 and 0.1 points to climb to 7.7 and 4.6 per cent, respectively. The former seems to have struggled due to the debate about Nato.
“Some of the Left Alliance’s voters moved to stand by the Social Democrats during the busiest phase of the debate. Most of this group continues to think the best option is the Social Democrats,” said Nurmela.
Support for the Centre has continued on a downward trajectory, falling by 0.6 points to 12.2 per cent in July. The agrarian ruling party has seen its popularity diminish by 1.1 points in the past two months, to its lowest level in over a year. Nurmela viewed that the party has the potential to increase its popularity as the parliamentary elections inch closer.
“It’s not set in stone that this will happen, but it’ll take a lot of work from the party,” he said.
Kantar TNS interviewed 2,460 people for the poll between 13 June and 12 July. The parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place on 2 April 2023.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT