Yle poll: Steep rise in undecided voters

Yle's monthly tracking poll suggests the Social Democrats are the best-supported party in Finland, but also shows a continuing decline in people willing or able to state which party they'd vote for.

Image: Yle Uutisgrafiikka

SDP leadership and possible disillusionment with politics are the main stories in Yle's monthly tracking poll, which shows the Social Democrats on 20.8 percent support in February. The Left Alliance and the Christian Democrats also saw small increases in support.

The Centre and National Coalition parties saw their support levels stagnate, with the Centre down 0.1 of a percentage point and the NCP stable at 18.0 percent. The Green Party was on 13.7 percent, while the Finns Party dropped 0.4 percent.

All changes in support levels were within the poll's margin of error at +- 1.5 percentage points.

The biggest story revealed by the poll, however, was the continuing decline in the proportion of respondents willing to state support for any party at all.

In February just 54.6 percent of those asked gave a party preference, compared to 57.1 percent in January. That compares to a figure well above 65 percent back in November 2015. That continuing decline mystifies researchers, given the proximity of April's municipal elections.

Image: Yle Uutisgrafiikka

"Party preferences should start to solidify, the closer we get to elections," said Professor Elina Kestilä-Kekkonen. "This result is the reverse. As the elections are in a month's time, it could be expected that party preferences would be slightly more certain than they are in this survey. One explanation for the large share of undecided voters is that the local election campaigns haven't really got started yet."

Kestilä-Kekkonen says that in the 2015 parliamentary election, one in ten voters decided who to vote for on election day, and one in three made the decision in the fortnight before. The general trend, however, is that the closer you get to an election, the more certain party preferences get.

Image: Yle Uutisgrafiikka

That means that, as the elections approach, there are a lot of votes still up for grabs.

"We don't really know anything about those who refuse to answer," said Kestilä-Kekkonen. "So there is still a group that could get activated and vote, or on the other hand could carry on sleeping."

Taloustutkimus interviewed more than twice as many respondents as in January, with some 4,862 people polled in February compared to 1961 in January. The margin of error is +- 1.5 percentage points.