Minister of Finance Riikka Purra (PS) spoke to reporters in the hall of state of the Parliament House in Helsinki on 15 February 2024. Purra’s Finns Party has seen a surge in support over the past month, reveals an opinion poll commissioned by Helsingin Sanomat. (Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva)

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THE WAVE of industrial actions organised by trade unions in protest of government plans to reform working life and slash social security has yet to significantly dent the popularity of the largest ruling parties, indicates an opinion poll conducted for Helsingin Sanomat by Verian.

The National Coalition, the poll found, held on to its place at the top of the poll despite seeing its approval rating slide by 0.4 percentage points to 21.3 per cent.

Support for the Finns Party, by contrast, surged by 1.6 points to 19.6 per cent, leaving the populist right-wing party in a tie for second place with the largest opposition party in parliament, the Social Democrats. The opposition party saw its approval rating drop by 0.9 points to 19.6 per cent, its lowest level since July 2023.

The Centre Party and Left Alliance saw their ratings improve by a point and half a points, respectively, the former climbing to 11.1 per cent and the latter to 8.9 per cent. The Green League saw its popularity fall by 0.8 points to 8.1 per cent, the Christian Democrats 0.2 points to 4.1 per cent, the Swedish People’s Party by 0.2 points to 3.6 per cent and Movement Now 0.3 points to 1.7 per cent.

Helsingin Sanomat on Wednesday called attention also to the situation of the Centre and Swedish People’s Party.

The former, it highlighted, is polling at the highest level since the second half of 2022, possibly in part due to the visibility received through the presidential campaign of Olli Rehn (Centre). Annika Saarikko, the chairperson of the Centre, announced last week she will not seek re-election as chairperson, but it is uncertain whether her announcement had an impact on the approval rating, given that it came only a day before the end of the polling period.

The Swedish People’s Party has continued on a months-long downward trend, the newspaper pointed out. The ruling party is currently polling nearly a full point below the vote share it won in the parliamentary elections held last year and lower than ever before in the 33-year history of the poll.

The party is clearly in disorder. Chairperson and Minister of Education Anna-Maja Henriksson, who is a candidate in the upcoming elections to the European Parliament, has refused to make any decisions about her future as party leader and cabinet member until after the elections.

Helsingin Sanomat also estimated that the recent presidential elections may have had an impact on the poll results.

Both Rehn and Jussi Halla-aho, the candidate of the Finns Party, performed fairly well in the first round of voting, possibly explaining some of the gains made by their respective parties. The Green League, though, saw its popularity decline despite the narrow second-round loss Pekka Haavisto (Greens) suffered to Alexander Stubb (NCP).

Verian conducted 2,740 phone interviews for the poll between 15 January and 16 February. The results have a margin of error of 2.0 points when it comes to the largest parties.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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