Parliamentary researcher and Yle election analyst Sami Borg has estimated that the eurosceptic Finns Party will be the only political group that will increase its voter support compared to the previous local government election four years ago. Borg has based his analysis on recent political polls, which show growing support for the nationalist opposition party.
In spite of the groundswell of popularity, Borg said that even the Finns Party will be hard pressed to find suitable candidates in the numbers required for the local government election.
“In 2008 voters flocked to the Finns Party, the National Coalition Party and the Green League in particular. Now if we compare the results of the latest polls to the results of the last municipal election, it seems that there is only one clear winner emerging: the Finns Party,” Borg declared.
The Finns Party won five percent of voter support during the last municipal election. But the trend of growing voter intentions has been propelling the party towards the major league in Finnish politics.
Coming out of the 2008 municipals, the National Coalition led the field with 23 percent poll support, while the Social Democrats and the Centre both also pulled in more than 20 percent of ballots.
“In comparison (with recent polls) the Greens would now have plus or minus zero, and particularly the Centre and National Coalition parties would be on the losing end,” Borg explained.
The Finns Party now appears to be heading into the local election campaign with a widening support base amidst the turmoil of the ongoing eurozone debt crisis.
However Borg noted that it still won’t be easy for the populist party to capitalize on its advantages – a lot depends on whether or not it will be able to field compelling candidates.
“The number of candidates required for the local elections is much larger than needed for parliamentary elections. In parliamentary elections we’re talking about 250 candidates, but now we’re looking at 2,500. It will mean a lot of hard work for the Finns party,” the researcher noted.
“People want to be on the winning side, so in this respect we will score a big “upset win” in the municipal election. I’m beginning to feel as I move around – this is the 48th municipality – that the win will be bigger percentage-wise than it was in the parliamentary election,” predicted Finns Party parliamentarian Juha Väätäinen.
Municipal finances, euro crisis big election issues
Political researcher Sami Borg speculated that the flashpoint topics of the election will be municipal finances and the eurozone debt crisis.
“By no means has research shown that one or two issues will determine the outcome of the election. Rather people will be weighing a number of factors. Nor will issues alone decide the result. Many people will vote for a candidate they know or for a particularly strong candidate,” he pointed out.
Two separate polls commissioned by the tabloids Iltalehti and Ilta-Sanomat and published Saturday appeared to support Borg’s theory.
They both show the major parties – the National Coalition the Social Democrats and the Centre parties – losing voter mindshare compared to the last local election, and the Finns Party surging in popularity to become the third or fourth largest party in Finland.