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Survey: Finns growing fearful that referendums will lead to poor decisions

A survey conducted by a municipal sector think tank shows an increase in negative attitudes to referendums since 2014. The poll by the Municipal Development Foundation KAKS revealed that a majority of Finns now fear that more direct votes on key issues will lead to poor and short-sighted decision-making.

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Image: Tiina Jutila / Yle

A new study published by the Municipal Development Foundation KAKS shows Finns are more or less evenly divided on the question of national referendums. Nearly half of respondents said they supported the idea of more popular votes, but an equal number opposed the proposition.

The data indicated that Finns are shying away from the notion of a direct vote compared to 2014. Two years ago, some 37 percent of nationals held a negative view of resolving important issues by way of more national referendums.

The foundation’s latest survey this year showed that that proportion had increased to 47 percent. The new poll also found that roughly 47 percent of respondents said they were in favour of more direct votes on key issues.

According to the poll results, Finns Party supporters had the most positive attitude to more opportunities to participate in national referendums. National Coalition Party backers meanwhile occupied the other end of the spectrum and were most doubtful of direct votes.

Declining confidence in referendum outcomes

A majority of respondents believed that increasing the number of opportunities for citizens to directly influence decision-making could easily result in poor and short-sighted outcomes. Some 58 percent of those polled either agreed completely or to some degree with that view.

Just a quarter of respondents said they disagreed with the assertion.

Indeed, the research team noted that "confidence in the wisdom of [resulting] decisions has weakened during the past five years."

Respondents who were concerned about the risk of poor decision-making tended to be highly-educated and were most often supporters of the Centre and National Coalition parties, while Finns Party backers appeared to be least worried about flawed outcomes.

Respondents were also asked whether or not municipal leaders should be elected by way of a direct vote. Nearly half supported the proposition, but almost an equal number disagreed.

The pollsters interviewed 1,082 respondents for the survey, which took place in September. The margin of error was just under +/- three percentage points.

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