A Helsingin Sanomat poll released on Saturday indicates that support for the populist Finns Party has plunged to a seven-year low.
The newspaper’s first party support survey of 2017, carried out by pollster Kantar TNS, suggests that just 8.6 percent of the electorate would vote for Foreign Minister Timo Soini’s party if elections were held now. Finland holds municipal elections in April.
That marks a decline of 1.3 percentage points from the December 2016 poll. The last time the nationalist Finns Party was below nine percent was in the spring of 2010.
Formed in 1995, they joined government for the first time in May 2015. At that point, their popularity level was more than twice as high as now, standing at 19.2 percent in the HS poll. The latest poll came as three FP politicians were convicted of hate speech.
SDP & NCP gain, Centre slips
The latest HS public opinion survey indicates that the opposition Social Democrats remain the nation’s most popular party with support of 21.7 percent. Former finance minister Antti Rinne's SDP has gained 0.9 percentage point since last month.
Meanwhile prime minister Juha Sipilä's Centre dipped by the same margin to just under 20 percent.
Current finance minister Petteri Orpo's conservative National Coalition Party was apparently the only one of the three cabinet partners to gain support, nudging up from 18.4 to 18.7 percent.
There were no major changes in backing for the other opposition parties. The Left Alliance gained slightly, pulling even with the Finns Party, while the Greens saw their support edge downward.
Pollster Kantar TNS interviewed 2,272 people for the poll. It sets the margin of error at about two percentage points for the major parties, meaning that most of the changes fall within that margin.