The opposition National Coalition Party (NCP) has taken the lead in the latest Yle party support poll. Prime Minister Sanna Marin's Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the opposition Finns Party garnered almost as much support, though. The Greens suffered the biggest loss in support. Support for another government party, the Centre, fell to 11.7 percent.
The two-point gap between the NCP and the SDP is just outside the 1.9 percentage point margin of error. Meanwhile the SDP and Finns are virtually tied for second place, separated by just one tenth of a percentage point.
In Yle's previous municipal election survey, the same three parties were in effect tied for first place, with the Finns Party holding a ultranarrow lead.
Centre, Greens both slip
Clearly behind the big three are two government parties, the Centre and the Greens, who were locked in a dispute over the use of highly-polluting peat as energy during last week's protracted budget framework negotiations. The process does not seem to have benefitted either, with support for both falling since last month's survey. Support for Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo's Greens dropped by 1.5 percent while Minister of Science and Culture **Annika Saarikko'**s Centre lost just under one percentage point.
Saarikko has not managed to halt the slide in support for the rural-based Centre since taking over as party leader last September.
The fifth-place Greens had their poorest showing of this year so far, dropping to 10.6 percent support.
"The Greens are losing support to other government partners as well as to the NCP," said Taloustutkimus Research Director Tuomo Turja. He notes that some former Greens supporters have also moved to the sidelines, not expressing support for any party this time.
NCP picks up support in cities
The NCP meanwhile has increased its support in the Uusimaa region, especially in Helsinki. It has also seen a bump in other large cities, gathering some former supporters of the Finns Party.
The SDP was the largest party when pollster Taloustutkimus started municipal election-oriented surveys in January. Since then the prime minister's party has slipped to third place.
There were no major changes in support for the smaller parties, although one junior government partner, the Swedish People's Party, gained one point to 5.3 percent backing.
Yle's next municipal election survey will be published on June 10, just before municipal elections on June 13.
Taloustutkimus interviewed 2,712 people between April 6 and May 4. Of these, 1,757 interviewees stated a party preference for the upcoming municipal elections. The margin of error is 1.9 percentage points in either direction.