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Poll suggests faith in current government's abilities is eroding

A poll from early June suggests that close to half of Finland's residents doubt the current centre-right government's ability to run the country. The poll predated a government crisis that began with the election of hardliner Jussi Halla-aho as Finns Party Chair on June 10.

Image: Yle Uutisgrafiikka

A new survey assessing Finnish residents' belief that the centre-right government led by Prime Minister Juha Sipilä is able to handle the country's affairs found that only one-quarter of respondents think the chances of success are good or very good. The Municipal Development Foundation, an advocate of local government, commissioned the poll, which was carried on out in early June – just days before the populist Finns Party, a coalition partner, almost caused the three-party government to shut down.

Finland's government is currently being run by three parties: the Centre Party, the National Coalition Party and the breakaway Finns Party faction planning to call itself Blue Reform. The 2017 poll assessing faith in the government found that close to every second respondent doubted the current coalition's abilities, a drop in support from similar polls in 2016 and 2015. Close to one out of every five respondents was on the fence, choosing not to censor or praise.

Over 80 percent of Centre Party faithful – the party of the Prime Minster – have faith in the government, but numbers drop to just over 50 percent among supporters of the centre-right NCP. Only a third of respondents identifying themselves as Finns Party adherents believe the ruling coalition has what it takes to lead the country through its challenges.

Among supporters of the remaining opposition political parties, over two-thirds, 70 percent, said they would rate their faith in the government's ability as somewhat or very bad. But they would not be seen as much better if they were in power, as the poll also found that every fifth respondent doubted the opposition's ability to set things straight as well. The party with the most faith in the opposition's abilities was the Left Alliance, at only 55 percent.

Strong on defence, divided on the economy

The poll asked respondents to grade the government on its performance in 11 different areas. The best marks were awarded for security and defence policy, with 44 percent showing their support and just 20 percent not satisfied. One-third said the government was doing a good job when it came to the economy, with 38 percent less than satisfied.

But views of the government's handling of a projected social and health care service administration reform were much less favourable, with just 17 percent saying they thought the government will come up with a successful solution and 55 percent giving the coalition's efforts in this area their condemnation. Another 54 percent said the government was also failing in education.

Compared to last year's poll, support percentages were up in the areas of the economy and employment, but down in the areas of social and health care and immigration.

Public predicts problems

One week before the government crisis that had Prime Minister Sipilä on a plane to Naantali to formally dissolve the government before he turned around at the last minute, the poll found that 42 percent of the respondents were highly sceptical of the coalition's chances of lasting until the next general elections in 2019. More than one quarter, 26 percent, predicted that it would fall apart before this. 31 percent refused to speculate on the government's staying power.

Kantar TNS interviewed more than one thousand people for the poll on June 2-7, leading to results with a three percent margin of error in either direction.

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