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Yle poll: NCP maintains lead, SDP in second, Centre support drops

The National Coalition Party's standing among voters does not seem to have been negatively impacted by the controversy over the party's immigration policy proposal.

Party support of July 2021.
Image: Illusia Sarvas / Yle

Support among voters for the National Coalition Party (NCP) has continued to increase since the party topped Yle's monthly survey at June's municipal election, according to the poll's results this month.

Just over one-fifth of the survey's respondents, 20.5 percent, said they would vote for the NCP if parliamentary elections were to be held now, an increase of 0.7 percentage points from the previous poll in July.

Research Director Tuomo Turja of polling research firm Taloustutkimus told Yle that background data revealed an increasing number of Centre Party supporters are now turning to the NCP.

"Support for the NCP has increased among pensioners and people of working age as well as among less-educated, vocationally-trained voters. Here you can see the consequences of the NCP's recent output on immigration," Turja said.

During the period when Taloustutkimus was surveying voters for this month's poll, the NCP published an immigration policy plan which led to a social media backlash against the party's use of the term 'kantasuomalainen' (translated as either 'native Finn' or 'ethnic Finn') as well as a proposal to lower social security payments for immigrants.

The Finns Party accused the NCP of stealing their ideas, with current Finns Party chair Jussi Halla-aho calling the policy proposal a "populist ploy".

NCP chair Petteri Orpo, who recently returned work after suffering a heart attack in mid-June, told Yle that his party would be open to a government partnership with the nationalist Finns Party.

Story continues after the photo.

Petteri Orpo.
National Coalition Party chair Petteri Orpo has just returned to work after six weeks on sick leave. Image: Jaani Lampinen / Yle
The latest poll also showed that support for Prime Minister Sanna Marin's Social Democratic Party (SDP) fell by 0.6 percentage points, but the party remained in second place on 19 percent support.

According to Turja, supporters of the so-called 'Red-Green' parties switch their allegiances quite frequently between the SDP, the Left Alliance and the Green Party, as was evidenced again during this latest polling period.

"However, the main reason for the decline [in SDP support] is that those who voted for the SDP in the last election have now moved to the sidelines," he said, meaning they were not willing to reveal their party allegiance.

Halla-aho resignation had no effect on Finns support

Voter support for the Finns Party remained steady in the new survey, despite party chair Halla-aho's announcement in June that he planned to step down as leader later this month at the party's summer congress in Seinäjoki.

A poll conducted by newspaper Helsingin Sanomat in July showed that support for the party had collapsed and was down by four percentage points, but Yle's survey did not find a similar pattern as support was very slightly up compared to last month's poll.

"During the summer, even the party's core supporters have had something else to think about other than the party's affairs, so that may explain why no change has taken place," Turja explained.

Story continues after the photo.

Jussi Halla-aho
Finns Party chair Jussi Halla-aho is set to step down as leader at a party congress later this month. Image: Mikko Stig / Lehtikuva
The race to replace Halla-aho as party chair has also not really kept the party in voters' minds, he added, as there has not been very much media coverage.

"Other surveys have shown that the supporters would have liked Halla-aho to continue, but his resignation has not led to them moving to the sidelines or to supporting another party," Turja said.

Short-lived surge in support for Centre Party

The Centre Party saw a significant uptick in support at the last poll in July, but the swing in voter sentiment towards the party appears to be short-lived as the latest figures show a drop of 1.2 percentage points - the biggest dip of all the parties in the poll.

The party has lost voters to the NCP and the Finns, and Turja said he expects this trend to continue.

"It was the same situation after the 2019 parliamentary elections," he added.

The Centre Party is now in a battle with its government coalition partner the Greens for the place as the fourth biggest party in the country. Support for the Green Party was up 0.5 percentage points and party chair Maria Ohisalo said she is hoping to build on that momentum going into the autumn.

Among the other parties, support for the Left Alliance was up by 0.6 percentage points to 8.6 percent while the Swedish People's Party now has 4.3 percent support, the Christian Democrats garnered 3.4 percent and Movement Now saw their numbers dip slightly to 1.8 percent.

Taloustutkimus interviewed 2,386 people between 12 July 2021 and 3 August 2021 for the survey. Altogether 1,728 voters revealed their party affiliation. The margin of error was +/- 2 percentage points.

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