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Most Finnish MPs decline to reveal Nato stance

Yle asked MPs whether Finland should join Nato. Most respondents said yes – but 142 others didn't respond, couldn't say or said no.

Most Finnish MPs are reluctant to state their position on Nato. File photo of the opening of Parliament's spring term on 2 February. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle

Many Members of Parliament are still weighing their position on a possible Finnish Nato application.

Yle asked MPs whether Finland should join the western military alliance.

Less than half of lawmakers responded to the survey, a much lower rate than usual, suggesting that many parties are still formulating their Nato stance.

Out of the 200 MPs, only 82 responded, with the majority of them in favour of membership. Fifty-eight MPs said they supported Nato membership, while nine said 'no' and 15 declined to state a position.

Support for Nato membership has grown in Finland since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, edging past the 50-percent mark for the first time ever in an Yle poll conducted around the time of the initial attack.

In this new situation, politicians and parties are under strong pressure to revise their Nato positions.

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Legislators from the opposition National Coalition Party (NCP), which has long supported Nato membership, were most active in responding to the straw poll.

All but four of the 38 NCP lawmakers responded to the survey, and they all supported membership. Recent opinion polls show the NCP in the lead ahead of the next parliamentary elections, just over a year from now.

On the other hand, only five out of the 40 MPs from Prime Minister Sanna Marin's Social Democratic Party (SDP) responded to the poll. About one third of MPs from government partners the Centre Party replied, about the same proportion as lawmakers from the other main opposition group, the Finns Party.

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Respondents from the five government parties were split. Most either said 'yes' to membership or were undecided, except for the Left Alliance MPs, who nearly all answered 'no'. Supporters of that party have called for a national referendum on membership.

By far the most common reason given by MPs for supporting the alliance was Russia's unpredictability.

The attack on Ukraine has eroded confidence in Russia, and some MPs said they wondered whether Russia might turn its attention toward Finland next.

Yle sought MPs' opinions via an online survey between 2 March and 8 March.

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