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Yle regional election poll: NCP solidifies lead, Centre challenges SDP for 2nd place

Finns Party supporters don't seem to have much interest in the regional elections, says pollster Tuomo Turja.

The last Yle poll before Sunday's election shows the race for second place tightening up between two government parties. Image: Ilkka Kemppinen / Yle

The final Yle party poll ahead of Sunday's county council elections shows significant changes in backing for the Centre Party and the opposition Finns Party.

The latest survey also found that former finance minister Petteri Orpo's opposition National Coalition Party (NCP) has strengthened its lead.

Public opinion pollster Taloustutkimus has been gauging regional election support for the parties since late November. At that point, the biggest difference compared to traditional parliamentary election measurements was a fall in support for the Greens.

This trend has continued in monthly surveys since then, reflecting the fact that the party's stronghold, Helsinki, is not taking part in the regional elections. Since November, party chair Maria Ohisalo has also been away on maternity leave, replaced by the lesser-known, relatively inexperienced Iiris Suomela.

Centre vies for 2nd place with SDP

The biggest change in the latest regional election support survey is the rise of the Centre Party and the decline of the Finns Party, said Taloustutkimus research director Tuomo Turja.

The new survey shows the Centre as the third most popular party, close on the heels of Prime Minister Sanna Marin's Social Democratic Party (SDP). The slight difference between the two parties' support is well within the poll's margin of error.

According to Turja, the Centre has succeeded in wooing back voters lost to the Finns Party in the 2019 parliamentary elections as well as in last year's municipal elections.

Finns Party backers unenthusiastic

The results of the latest poll suggest that many Finns Party supporters seem to be sitting this election out.

"Our background material shows that among supporters of the large parties, Finns Party backers are the most reluctant to actually go to the polls. And this may suggest that regional elections may not be one where the Finns Party is at its strongest or in its own areas of strength," Turja suggested.

The other opposition parties scored less than five percent support in this survey.

About two-thirds of poll respondents stated a party position.

"Usually when an election approaches, the share of those who express a position clearly increases. That has not shown up this time, which could be a slight indication that people are not very inspired by the regional elections," said Turja.

Election day is this Sunday, 23 January. More than a million people cast ballots during the advance voting period, which ended on Tuesday.

Taloustutkimus interviewed 3,158 people, of whom 2,083 expressed their views. The margin of error is +/-2.2 percentage points.

The interviews were conducted between 27 December and 18 January. The interviewees did not include residents of Helsinki, who are not voting in this election.