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Yle Poll: SDP rising, govt coalition slipping, voters more uncertain

Finland's largest opposition party, the Social Democratic Party has increased its popularity among voters to become the country's most popular political force. According to Yle's new political barometer, nearly 23 percent of voters said they support the SDP. By contrast, the poll shows electors drifting away from parties in the government coalition.

Image: Yle Uutisgrafiikka

Yle’s February political poll shows declining support for the parties comprising the governing coalition. The coalition’s combined voter approval rating now stands at 47 percent and has been falling since last November.

Support for the nationalist Finns Party appears to have suffered most from burden of government: before last year’s general election 17.7 percent of voters backed the party, but now nearly half of that backing has evaporated, leaving just 9 percent still standing behind it.

The poll was conducted for Yle by pollster Taloustutkimus. Research director Jari Pajunen said one of the biggest changes has been a visible rise in voter uncertainty. Just 58.3 percent of respondents were willing to say which party they would vote for if an election were held at the time. Some said they were still searching for the right political base.

Yle asked Pajunen who is the biggest loser in the current scenario.

"When people become passive, the Finns Party will be the biggest loser. Absolutely. The Finns Party have lost supporters to the SDP. This group has the highest number of working people. They are now wondering who to vote for, or if to vote at all," Pajunen explained.

NCP backers drift to the sidelines

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s Centre Party has been leaking voter support since last summer. In August the party’s approval rating was even higher than during the general election. In August 23 percent of voters backed the party, compared to 21.1 percent a few months earlier. However backing now stands at 20.7 percent, according to the Yle poll.

Yle’s barometer put support for Finance Minister Alexander Stubb’s National Coalition Party at 16.9 percent in February, making it still the third-largest political force in the country.

Research chief Pajunen said that the NCP camp is still waiting for the party to display a firmer and more decisive approach to government policy. Some of its support has fled to the sidelines, as well as to the Greens, Centre and Social Democrats.

"However this isn’t catastrophic, it could still change," Pajunen noted.

Greens’ ascent falters

The Parliament’s largest opposition party, the Social Democratic Party, has been able to increase its popularity by 6.4 percentage points since last year’s general election. It now has the support of 22.9 percent of voters, putting it ahead of all of the government parties.

With the exception of the Greens, all of the opposition parties saw a rise in voter support in February. Although the Greens’ popularity slipped by 1.6 percentage points since the January barometer, it still enjoys a higher level of support than during the parliamentary elections. Pajunen said that the party has successfully profiled itself as the defender of student rights.

Among the smaller opposition parties, the Swedish Peoples’ Party and the Christian Democrats also nudged upwards in voters’ favours. Even parties not represented in the Parliament enjoyed a boost in voter approval, according to the poll.

Taloustutkimus interviewed 2,895 respondents from February 3 to March 1 for the poll. Some 1,689 were willing to disclose their party preference. The margin of error for the results of the largest parties was 1.5 percentage points in either direction.

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