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Yle poll: SDP support drops as race at the top intensifies

The Prime Minister's party is fractionally in front of the Finns Party and NCP ahead of municipal elections next month.

February party support graphics.
Image: Ilkka Kemppinen / Yle

There is very little distance between Finland’s three largest parties with just six weeks left until the municipal election, according to the results of Yle’s latest monthly political party poll.

Each of the three suffered slight dips in support in the latest measurement, with Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s Social Democratic Party (SDP) dropping just below 20 percent voter support for the first time since she took over as leader.

The populist Finns Party remains in second place at 18.7 percent with the conservative National Coalition Party (NCP) in third at 17.9 percent.

The NCP has been the largest party at the polls in each of the last three municipal elections--in 2008, 2012 and 2017--with the party’s success built upon strong support in major urban areas, especially in Helsinki.

However, the latest survey period ending on 2 March, so was not able to gauge reaction among voters to the fallout from NCP candidate Kirsi Piha’s withdrawal from the Helsinki mayoral race last weekend.

Member of Parliament and Helsinki city councillor Juhana Vartiainen has since put his name forward as the nominee to replace Piha, but Tuomo Turja of pollster Taloustutkimus told Yle that it is too early to determine how much impact the NCP crisis will have on voter sentiment.

"The events at the weekend do not appear in this measurement. Let’s see if it shows in the next poll, but to some extent support for the NCP is declining," Turja said.

SDP support stalls, Left bounce back

While the SDP still leads the poll, support for the Prime Minister’s party, now at 19.5 percent, has been gradually falling since the record high of 23.4 percent measured in August.

The party has lost support among female and working-age voters in particular, Turja said.

"Northern and Eastern Finland and rural municipalities are areas where support for the SDP has fallen," he added.

Meanwhile, among the SDP’s government coalition parties, the Left Alliance saw its support rise by nearly two percentage points from 7.2 percent last month to 9.1 percent this time out.

The All Points North podcast is interviewing the leaders of each of the main political parties ahead of the municipal elections on 18 April. You can hear the latest episode in this embedded player, via Yle Areena, on Spotify or via your favoured podcast provider.

Story continues after audio.

Turja notes that the party has managed to stop the leaking of voter support to other parties.

The Left Alliance has traditionally lost its support to the SDP and to the Greens, but now this situation has levelled off. Leaks to the Finns Party seem to have stopped too," Turja said.

The Left Alliance sits in sixth place in the standings, just behind government coalition partners the Green Party and the Centre Party.

Finns Party "advancing in all areas"

The latest poll also found that the Finns Party have managed to consolidate their support among voters, especially in rural areas.

"The Finns Party is advancing in all areas, but especially in small towns and rural municipalities," Turja said.

The party only garnered just over eight percent of the vote at the last municipal elections in 2017, but will be heading to the polls this time as the largest opposition party.

Taloustutkimus interviewed 2,958 people between 3 February and 2 March 2021 for the survey. Altogether 1,824 voters revealed their party affiliation. The margin of error was +/- 2.0 percentage points.

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