Chairpersons Riikka Purra of the Finns Party (left), Sanna Marin of the Social Democrats and Petteri Orpo of the National Coalition attended an election debate in Helsinki on 15 February 2023. The three parties are separated by less than two percentage points, according to the latest opinion poll by YLE. (Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva)


THE NATIONAL COALITION, Social Democrats and Finns Party are locked in an ever tighter race for the right to take first stab at forming the next government.

YLE on Thursday published the results of its latest opinion poll, revealing that the three most popular political parties in the country are separated by no more than 1.8 percentage points – a difference that falls within the poll’s two-point margin of error.

Support for the National Coalition fell by 0.8 points to 20.8 per cent. The Social Democrats and Finns Party are polling at 19.9 per cent and 19.0 per cent after recording gains of 0.8 and 0.6 points, respectively.

The National Coalition has held on to the top spot of the poll since May 2021. Long a proponent of joining Nato, the right-wing opposition party saw its popularity spike last spring as debate about the membership heated up in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Tuomo Turja, the research director at Taloustutkimus, reminded YLE that the changes in the poll are moderate.

“The Nato bonus has melted away for the National Coalition, but the National Coalition remains the most well supported party out of the trio,” he commented. “The three most popular parties are more closely together, though.”

All three parties are presently projected to improve on their performance in the parliamentary elections of 2019. The Social Democrats emerged from the elections as the largest party with a vote share of 17.7 per cent, narrowly topping the 17.5-per-cent haul of the Finns Party and the 17-per-cent haul of the National Coalition.

Support for the Centre Party decreased by 0.5 points to 9.5 per cent.

“The Centre isn’t in a particularly good situation at the moment,” said Turja. “The party continues to haemorrhage support in the traditional directions, meaning the Finns Party and National Coalition. The Finns Party has been benefiting slightly more in recent months.”

Key for the ruling party will be its ability to mobilise its former supporters, according to him.

The Left Alliance overtook the Green League as the fifth most popular party as popular support for the former rose by 1.4 points to 9.0 per cent and that for the latter sank by 1.4 points to 8.9 per cent.

“The Greens’ poll result is the worst in a long time. This is once again showing how voters are moving within the red-green bloc. This time around, the Greens are losing support to the Left Alliance,” stated Turja.

Support for the Swedish People’s Party stayed at 4.4 per cent. The Christian Democrats and Movement Now registered drops of 0.4 points and 0.3 points to 3.6 and 1.5 per cent, respectively.

Support for other parties, meanwhile, jumped by 0.7 points to 3.4 per cent, driven largely by the emergence of the Liberal Party. Turja estimated that the party, which accounted for one-third of the backing given to other parties, has a chance to nab votes particularly in Uusimaa, particularly from the National Coalition.

Taloustutkimus interviewed 2,459 people for the poll between 6 and 28 February.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT