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Yle poll: NCP, Greens most popular in Helsinki but Finns Party support growing

The race to become the biggest party in the capital is intensifying as the local election approaches.

Nasima Razmyar (SDP), Juhana Vartiainen (NCP) and Anni Sinnemäki (Green) are the mayoral candidates for the three most popular parties in the capital, according to the results of the Yle poll. Image: Yle

The top three most popular political parties in Helsinki are the National Coalition Party (NCP), the Green Party and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) ahead of June's local election, according to the results of an Yle voter poll.

The election, due to be held on 13 June after being postponed from April, will decide which parties exercise the most power on Helsinki City Council.

The poll found 25 percent support among voters for the NCP, 21 percent for the Greens and 15 percent for the SDP.

However, despite retaining their places as the capital's two most popular parties, both the NCP and the Greens saw a drop in support from the results of the previous local election in 2017.

The poll also found increasing support for the Finns Party, with 12 percent of Helsinki residents surveyed saying they would vote for the party -- a rise of five percentage points from the party's showing at the 2017 election. This figure is however still lower than support for the party elsewhere in the country.

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Josefina Sipinen, a PhD candidate in Political Science at the University of Tampere, told Yle that she is not surprised by the results of the poll.

"The Finns Party is taking support from the other parties. They had a bad result at the last election, but this election will certainly be better. The party’s national popularity has been strong since the change of leadership in the summer of 2017," Sipinen said.

However, the party's increased support would not be enough to secure party leader Jussi Halla-aho the role of Helsinki mayor, as the party is currently the fifth most popular party in the capital, according to the Yle poll.

Poll results follow "international trend"

Sipinen said that the results follow a current international trend.

"Studies have shown that populist right-wing parties are especially popular in areas that have suffered from economic restructuring, especially in the short term. In the regions that are the winners of globalisation, such as the Helsinki Metropolitan Area and Helsinki, support for such parties has often been weaker," she said.

Helsinki's most popular party has long been the centre-right National Coalition Party, which appeals to many high-income voters.

However, Sipinen said she does not consider it impossible that the Green Party, who have been swinging on the heels of the Coalition, could not grab the first place this time.

"Support for the Greens was higher than the NCP in Helsinki in the 2019 parliamentary election, which was a historic result. In this light, the success of the Greens in the local election cannot be ruled out," she said, adding that the NCP and the Green Party appeal to the same electorate in Helsinki.

Josefina Sipinen told the Yle News podcast All Points North why it's so important to vote in local elections. You can listen to the full podcast using the embedded player here or via Yle Areena, Spotify (siirryt toiseen palveluun), Apple Podcasts (siirryt toiseen palveluun) or your usual podcast player using the RSS feed (siirryt toiseen palveluun).

Article continues after audio.

"Highly educated people vote for these parties. If the voter is more in the middle or right on economic issues, the NCP may appear to be a viable option. The NCP also has a more value-liberal wing and confluence in Helsinki for voters who are not on the left-right axis or especially on the left on economic policy issues," Sipinen explained.

Yle's poll also found that support for the capital's smaller parties, such as the Swedish People's Party, the Christian Democrats and the Centre Party, has weakened in comparison to the results of the 2017 election.

Pollster Taloustutkimus interviewed 1,025 people between 26 and 28 April for the poll, which was based on a sample representation of the voting age population of Helsinki. The margin of error is about +/- 2.5 percentage points.