As voters in Finland prepare to head to the polls for the European election on Sunday, the conservative National Coalition Party (NCP) look set to retain their three MEP seats, according to Yle’s latest measure of voter sentiment.
The NCP, led by outgoing finance minister Petteri Orpo, have a proven track record in European elections and have been Finland’s biggest party in the European Parliament since 1999.
Hot on their heels however are the Greens Party, helped by a 7.9 percent surge in support since the previous European elections in 2014; and the Finns Party, who are predicted to grow their share of the European vote by 4 percent.
Sipilä's problems persist
According to the survey, the biggest loser in the European elections will be the Centre Party, with an almost seven percentage point dip in support compared to the 2014 European elections. The party's struggles have not been helped by the loss of big name candidates such as Olli Rehn, Paavo Väyrynen and Anneli Jäätteenmäki, all former MEPs.
Such an outcome would see the party’s representation at the European Parliament shrink from three members to two, and would be another huge blow to outgoing PM Juha Sipilä’s party after a poor showing at the recent Finnish parliamentary elections.
The poll predicts that the Centre party's lost seat will most likely be picked up by the resurgent Greens, led by former EU special representative and two-time Finnish presidential candidate Pekka Haavisto.
The other parties currently with representatives in the European Parliament - the Social Democrat Party (2), the Swedish People's Party (1) and the Left Alliance (1) - are all expected to retain their seats.
The results will, however, depend heavily on voter turnout, which tends to be significantly lower for European elections than for Finnish parliamentary elections. This makes accurate estimations particularly difficult, according to Tuomo Turja, Research Director at pollster Taloustutkimus.
"These are elections in which a large majority of voters usually abstain," Turja says.
At the last EU elections in 2014, voter turnout in Finland was just 39 percent, compared with a figure of 70 percent for the national elections held in 2015. Parliamentary elections held earlier this year saw 73 percent of eligible Finns make their way to polling stations, but it remains to be seen if this momentum will carry on into the EU elections.
There are early signs of voter turnout being higher for this election, with an increase in advance voting from the figures for 2014. Yle News also found voter appetite to be strong when we took to the streets of Helsinki recently to gauge public opinion ahead of Sunday's election.