Yle poll: SDP and Centre support slips, Greens gain, NCP retain lead

Political squabbling over cultural sector funding cuts, afterparties and 'Boomers' may have contributed to a drop in support for two government parties, Yle's latest poll reveals.

Image: Ilkka Kemppinen / Yle

A dispute between two governing coalition partners over culture sector funding has led to a drop in support for both parties, according to the results of Yle's latest monthly voter survey.

The Social Democratic Party (SDP)'s clashed with the Centre Party over planned cuts to funding for sports and culture groups because of shrinking revenues from state gambling firm Veikkaus, a move that was eventually reversed.

However, support for Prime Minister Sanna Marin's (SDP) party fell by one percentage point to 18.1 from the last poll published in October, leaving the governing party in second place overall.

Meanwhile the Centre Party saw its backing among voters fall by 0.7 percentage points to 11.9 percent.

"The decline in SDP support started in the second week of the polling period and coincided with a wide range of political events," Research Director Tuomo Turja of polling research firm Taloustutkimus told Yle. "There was the controversy over the distribution of Veikkaus funding, commotion about the Prime Minister organising an afterparty in Kesäranta [the PM's official residence] and the boomer update."

With the boomer update, Turja is referring to PM Marin posting a story on Instagram last month in which she posed with fellow SDP MP Ilmari Nurminen to the backdrop of Finnish pop singer Benjamin Peltonen's lyrics "Hey boom-boom-boomer, stay calm, be cool."

The post was widely interpreted as a slap-back from the prime minister against criticism over her social media activities.

Turja noted that support for the SDP declined in particular among the older age group with no evident increase in support among the younger demographics.

"I would not call this revenge for the 'Boomers', but this discussion around the SDP may not have pleased the older generation," Turja said.

The term 'Boomer' was explained by many Finnish media outlets as referring to the post-war generation born between 1945 and 1950, but tabloid Iltalehti (siirryt toiseen palveluun) pointed out that the term is often used to refer to people "stuck in the past."

NCP remain in pole position

The National Coalition Party (NCP) retained its place as the country's most popular political party — as it has been in every one of Yle's monthly voter polls since the municipal election in June — with its backing among voters remaining exactly the same, at 21.9 percent.

According to Turja, 20 percent and above is a very strong result under the current political climate, where support is being shared more widely among the parties.

"There are rarely such high numbers of support at the top of the polls. Today, the situation seems to be that there is not as clearly a top party," Turja said, adding that the current situation looks promising for the NCP as the parties begin preparing for the county council elections in January.

The Finns Party remained in third place in the latest poll, with their support among voters increasing very slightly to 17.9 percent.

"Support has not changed in one direction or the other. Party chair Riikka Purra has continued the line of her predecessor [Jussi Halla-aho], and it has certainly been a line that the supporters like," Turja said.

Other government parties see modest gains

The other government coalition parties had a better polling period than the SDP and the Centre, with the Green Party seeing a one percentage point jump in support, reversing a recent downward slide.

"The Greens saw a clear decline last month but the latest poll shows a return to the previous level of support. This time, the Greens saw gains in support among groups where the SDP lost out," Turja said.

Among the other coalition parties, the Swedish People's Party were up 1.1 percentage points to 5.2 percent while the Left Alliance stayed on 8.6 percent.

"The increase in support for the Swedish People's Party is explained by the fact that this time the party really held on to its own voters," Turja explained.

Support for the opposition Christian Democrats fell slightly to 2.6 percent while backing for Movement Now remained the same, at 1.7 percent.

Taloustutkimus interviewed 2,535 people between 6 October and 2 November 2021 for the survey. Altogether 1,753 voters revealed their party affiliation and the margin of error was +/- 2 percentage points.