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Eva poll: 60% back Finland joining Nato

Support for membership of the military alliance has more than doubled from a similar poll conducted last autumn.

The results of the poll on Nato membership were broadly in line with an Yle survey published last week. Image: Jani Saikko / Yle

Some 60 percent of people would support Finland joining the Nato military alliance, according to the results of a 'Values and Attitudes Survey' carried out by the Finnish Business and Policy Forum (Eva), a think-tank.

The result (siirryt toiseen palveluun) represents a 34 percentage point jump in support for Finnish membership of the alliance compared to a similar poll carried out last autumn, and marks the highest level of support for Nato membership since Eva began polling opinion on the subject in 1998.

The latest poll further found that only 19 percent of respondents would be against such a move, down from 40 percent last time.

"Russia has shown that it does not respect the integrity of its neighbours," Eva's research manager, Ilkka Haavisto, wrote in a press release announcing the survey results. "The war in Ukraine has concretely shown what the horrors of a defensive war on Finland's own territory would be and made it clear that Nato countries cannot use their military forces to help defend a non-aligned country."

Eva, Yle polls garner similar outcomes

The results of the Eva poll are broadly in line with the views expressed in a survey published last week by Yle, which found support for Nato membership had climbed to an unprecedented 62 percent, while opposition fell to just 16 percent.

The majority of respondents to the Eva survey said they want a decision to be made soon, preferably this year, with 41 percent wanting political leaders to make a call before this summer while 19 percent said Finland should make a move before the end of the year.

Only six percent said they would leave the decision until after next year's parliamentary elections.

The survey also found that the views of political leaders on Nato membership are no longer as influential as they once were. Some 48 percent of respondents said they would support a membership application regardless of whether the Prime Minister and President backed such a move. In previous polls the views of political leaders tended to have a much higher effect on the opinions of survey respondents.

However, if the PM and President were to signal their support for membership, the number of people in favour of joining Nato would increase to 67 percent, according to the results of the poll.

Sweden's application for membership would also be a considerable factor in people's support, raising the level to 69 percent, with only 11 percent saying they would not want Finland to join the alliance even if Sweden submitted an application.

Perception of threat growing

Public perceptions of Finland's national security have gradually become more cautious since the beginning of the 2000s, with only one in ten people now saying that Finland does not face any real military threats.

This is a significant drop from the 50 percent that said Finland faced no threats in a similar poll from 2007. By comparison, three out of four respondents now believe that Finland faces a real threat.

Furthermore, two out of three said they believe that it would be safer for Finland to be a member of Nato than a non-aligned nation, especially as a neighbour of Russia.

The Eva poll also found that support for Nato membership was higher among men than women, while supporters of the National Coalition Party (NCP) and the Swedish People's Party were the voters most clearly in favour. The issue was found to be much more divisive among supporters of the Left Alliance, with about a third in favour and one third against joining the alliance.

The survey was conducted by pollster Taloustutkimus between 4 and 15 March, with 2,100 people responding to the online questionnaire. The margin of error is 2-3 percentage points in each direction.

The lastest episode of Yle News' All Points North podcast delved into the question of Finnish membership of Nato. You can listen to the full podcast using the embedded player here, via Yle Areena, Spotify (siirryt toiseen palveluun), Apple Podcasts (siirryt toiseen palveluun) or wherever you get your podcasts.

Article continues after audio.