The Social Democratic Party (SDP) has been able to moderately increase its lead over Finland’s other two major parties, the Centre Party and the National Coalition Party (NCP), an Yle-commissioned survey carried out by pollster Taloustutkimus shows.
The poll indicates the SDP, the largest opposition party, had 22.6 percent voter support in September, a rise of 2.3 percentage points from August, slightly above the poll's 2.1-percentage-point margin of error. The NCP and the Centre trailed behind, with support of 18.9 and 17.6 percent, respectively, largely unchanged from the previous month.
Research director Tuomo Turja from Taloustutkimus said the government’s bill to ease firing in small firms has clearly benefited the SDP and other parties on the left.
”The SDP became the largest party in early 2018 when the government’s activation model for the unemployed was on the table. Now trade unions and the government are on the warpath again, which helps the Social Democrats.”
Several large unions staged a 24-hour strike affecting public transportation and schools on Wednesday to protest the proposed dismissal regulations.
"However, I would not declare myself the next prime minister quite yet," Turja says, referring to SDP chair Antti Rinne. "I'd wait to see if this was a statistical peak."
Blue Reform support tanks
According to Turja, women and blue-collar workers in particular have helped the SDP's rise in popularity. All the other parties have seen voters switch over to the Social Democrats.
”In relative terms, the Finns Party has lost the highest number of supporters to the SDP," Turja says, with the party experiencing a slight drop in popularity to 9.3 percent.
"The Finns Party is used to repeating its migration-critical message, but they need to find supporters among people interested in other matters besides migration. So far, the party has not succeeded at this,” he adds.
Similarly, the Blue Reform Party has recently been in the public eye due to Timo Soini’s anti-abortion views.
”Opposing abortion will not translate into large political support in Finland. The Blue Reform has to find something else to talk about,” Turja says.
The Blue Reform saw its voter approval rating fall from 1.6 percent to 1.1 percent in September and remains below the survey's margin-of-error.
Green Party continues to wane
Meanwhile, popularity for the Green Party continues to decline, with another percentage point shed in September.
"The Greens seem to be in disarray with party chair Touko Aalto going on sick leave in mid-September," Turja says. ”To outsiders it is not clear who is in charge at the moment.”
On Wednesday Green MP Jani Toivola announced he was not seeking to renew his term in office following a media firestorm over his taxi expenses and home allowance perk.
This benefits the Left Alliance which saw an uptick in support during September, Turja adds.
The survey polled 2,415 people during the period 10 September to 2 October, and has a margin of error of +/- 2.1 percentage points.