POPULAR SUPPORT for the Social Democratic Party has decreased by 0.9 percentage points to 19.2 per cent, according to the latest opinion poll commissioned by Helsingin Sanomat.
The poll was carried out during extensive media reports and spirited public debate about the pastime activities of Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP), between August and September. The debate, however, appears not to have a major impact on the popularity of the ruling party.
“The poll did coincide with the publicity received by Marin, but the data doesn’t prove directly that there’s a connection. You can draw the conclusion, though, that the decrease has been moderate and that the impact hasn’t been terribly big,” analysed Sakari Nurmela, the research director at Kantar Public.
Nurmela also stated that it remains premature to say whether the drop in support is attributable to natural fluctuation or a longer-term phenomenon.
Although the Social Democratic Party saw its popularity decline, it held on to its status as the second largest party in the country sandwiched between two right-wing opposition parties, the National Coalition (23.6%) and the Finns Party (16.1%).
The National Coalition and the Centre Party (11.8%) consolidated their standing in the poll, the former registering gains of 0.6 points and the latter gains of 0.8 points. The National Coalition has sat at the top of the poll since last summer and widened its advantage over other parties particularly after Russia launched its large-scale invasion of Ukraine in February.
While the opposition party is poised to fare well in the parliamentary elections, duplicating the results of the poll in the elections would be all but unprecedented, reminded Nurmela.
“It’s good to keep in mind that realising the current poll results in the elections would signify a historically good result for the National Coalition,” he said to the newspaper, reminding that the only time the party won more than 23 per cent of the vote in a parliamentary elections was in 1987.
Support for the Finns Party crept up by 0.1 points to 16.1 per cent, a level that, on the one hand, is about a point below its vote haul in the previous parliamentary elections and, on the other, about two points above the nadir it hit at the beginning of this year.
The Green League and Swedish People’s Party saw their popularity fall marginally to 9.6 and 4.4 per cent, respectively. The Left Alliance contrastively registered a 0.4-point jump in support and is presently polling at 8.0 per cent.
“The most interesting aspect of this poll is that the Left Alliance’s support seems to have recovered from the readings of last summer, when its ranks were split over Finland’s Nato membership process,” told Nurmela.
Kantar Public interviewed 2,460 people for the poll between 15 August and 11 September. All the changes fall within the poll’s margin of error of +/-2.1 points.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT