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Yle poll: SDP gets boost due to handling of coronavirus crisis, researcher says

A researcher said the Social Democrats' popularity is due to satisfaction in how the government has handled the coronavirus crisis.

Party Support.
The graph features photos of the parliamentary party chairs. Image: Otso Ritonummi / Yle

Support among probable voters for Prime Minister Sanna Marin's Social Democratic Party grew by more than a percentage point to 23.2 percent in May, according to Yle's monthly political support poll.

The continued increase in the SDP's popularity was due to satisfaction in how the government has handled the coronavirus epidemic crisis, according to research director Tuomo Turja from Taloustutkimus, the firm which carried out the survey.

Meanwhile opposition parties, including the two largest, the Finns Party and National Coalition Party, also lost support during the ongoing crisis.

PM Marin and the SDP are now reaping benefits from their management of the epidemic, according to Turja, who added that leading parties often gain political support during times of crisis.

During Marin's six-month tenure as Finland's premier, the SDP's popularity has grown by about ten percentage points, according to Yle's polling.

Turja said that those kinds of increases were very exceptional, but added "so are these times."

"Yes, the rise is beginning to be unprecedented. Let's see how long it lasts. In the current political situation, 24-25 percent of support for any party will start to reach a ceiling. I don't think support for the SDP will further increase much," the researcher explained.

Turja said it appears that SDP support grew in particular among 35 to 49-year-old labourers and white collar workers, but noted that the Finns Party still receives the most support from blue collar workers.

al-Hol repatriation spurred Finns Party support

Meanwhile, support for opposition parties declined marginally last month, with the right wing Finns Party losing 0.2 percentage points of support since last month. Meanwhile, the centre-right NCP saw a decline of 0.7 percentage points.

However, following the Finns Party's two percentage point drop in Yle's poll at the beginning of May, Turja said their declines in support have now stabilised at about 18 percent, referring the level to the party's "support base."

He noted it was interesting that background information revealed that an increase in support for the Finns Party was seen after three Finnish families who'd been interned at the Al-Hol refugee camp in Syria were repatriated on Sunday. Finns Party chair, Jussi Halla-aho, voiced suspicions on Tuesday that Finland must have assisted the families' escape, which Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto denied.

Meanwhile, the NCP also lost 0.7 percentage points of support last month.

However, being a part of the five-party coalition government did not mean all received similar upswings. The increase in support for the SDP was more than two times greater than support for the Centre Party, which dropped by one-and-a-half percentage points to 10.7 percent.

Turja said support was being drained from the centrist parties to the largest ones in opposition, adding that Centre voters may have been dissatisfied with the government's policies.

Support for the Centre declined particularly in eastern and northern regions, as well as on their home turf, in rural Finland.

Little change in opposition party support

Meanwhile the coalition Swedish Peoples' Party, with 3.9% of support, saw a marginal decline, while support for the Left Alliance increased very slightly (0.1%) to 7.8 percent.

The remainder of opposition parties including the Christian Democrats, saw little change compared to last month, with the exception of the relatively new Movement Now party, chaired by business leader Harry Harkimo.

Support for Movement Now increased by 0.8 percentage points to 2.3 percent, but Turja said more time is needed before drawing conclusions about the fledgling party's future success.

"I would look at this development a little longer. Movement Now got some support from previous NCP voters, which indicates there was a small shift."

Meanwhile, the Christian Democrats at 3.5 percent of support saw a slight decline (0.2%).

The survey, commissioned by Yle and carried out by polling firm Taloustutkimus queried 2,447 Finns during 11 May-2 June 2020. 1,625 of the respondents revealed their party affiliation. The margin of error was 2 percentage points in either direction.

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