The Finns Party have overtaken Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s Social Democratic Party (SDP) to become Finland's most popular party, according to the results of Yle's latest monthly political party poll.
The change marks the first time the nationalist Finns Party has occupied the top spot since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis.
Support for the party led by Jussi Halla-aho grew by almost one and a half percentage points to 20.9 percent, which was the biggest jump in support of any of the parties in the latest poll and is the party’s best showing since the beginning of this year.
"The Finns Party has managed to hold on to the supporters who voted for them in the parliamentary elections. In addition, new supporters have come from the 'sleeping' parties, such as the National Coalition Party and the Centre in particular," Research Director Tuomo Turja of pollster Taloustutkimus told Yle.
Turja added the Finns Party have increased their support among men in particular, further strengthening the party’s position with that demographic. Conversely, the National Coalition Party and the SDP saw decreased support from male voters.
SDP support continues to slide
Support for the SDP fell slightly in the latest poll and now stands at 20.6 percent, down from 21.2 percent in last month’s poll and a sizeable drop from the 23.4 percent record level of support the party enjoyed in August.
That polling peak was driven by voter satisfaction with how the government parties dealt with the coronavirus crisis, and in particular on the performance of Marin as PM, but the latest poll sees a return to the familiar situation where no one party has a clear advantage.
"Exceptional readings were seen in exceptional circumstances, and we are now returning to the figures that are normal in this current political environment. There is not one party that is by far the largest, but three to four medium-sized parties," Turja explained.
NCP opposition strategy not delivering
The opposition National Coalition Party has suffered another drop in support in the latest poll, falling from 18.3 percent in September and 17.7 percent in October to just under 16 percent this month, with younger voters especially moving away from the party.
The Petteri Orpo-led conservative party’s two-front policy of trying to please liberals on one side of the political divide and conservatives on the other has not worked, with Taloustutkimus finding that the party lost support to both the Green Party to the left and the Finns Party to the right.
This transfer from NCP has helped the Greens improve their support by 0.8 percentage points to 11.6 per cent, but leaves the party just slightly behind their government coalition partner the Centre Party in the latest standings.
Government parties slightly down, opposition slightly up
The Centre Party had been seeing a steady growth in support since the election of Annika Saarikko as party chair in early September, but this month that trend was reversed as support fell by half a percentage point to 12.1 percent.
As for the other parties in government, support for the Left Alliance also dropped by half a percentage point, leaving the party on 7.2 percent, while the Swedish People’s Party support remained virtually unchanged from the previous survey at 4.4 percent.
The latest figures reveal that combined support for the governing parties currently stands at 55.9 percent, down by half a percentage point, while support for the opposition is now at 44.1 percent.
Among the smaller parties, the Christian Democrats fell by one percentage point to 3 percent, but according to Taloustutkimus this swing is more likely to be caused by a random variation in the sample size rather than a permanent shift in party support.
Meanwhile some 2.2 percent of respondents said they would vote for Movement Now.
Taloustutkimus interviewed 2,707 people between 9 November and 1 December for the survey. Altogether 1,881 revealed their party affiliation. The margin of error was +/- 1.9 percentage points.