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Yle survey: Finns Party extend lead as most popular, Centre slumps to all-time low

The November poll, the last for the Rinne government, shows rising support for the nationalist Finns Party. 

Party support 5.12.
Image: Lasse Isokangas / Yle

The rising popularity of the Finns Party shows no signs of slackening. The largest opposition party has extended its lead over its closest rival to 5.7 percentage points. In second is the other main opposition group, the conservative National Coalition Party (NCP).

The Yle/Taloustutkimus tracking poll suggests that 24.3 percent of voters would back the Finns Party if an election were held now. This is the strongest support level in the nearly quarter of a century since the party was founded.

Its previous peak of popularity was in 2011, when it had 23 percent support under former chair and co-founder Timo Soini. Since mid-2017, the party has been led by immigration hardliner Jussi Halla-aho.

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Puheenjohtajat Jussi Halla-aho (ps.) ja Petteri Orpo (kok.)
Opposition leaders Jussi Halla-aho (Finns Party) and Petteri Orpo (NCP).

Tuomo Turja, research director at pollster Taloustutkimus, tells Yle that the party is gathering support from both the politically disaffected and previous supporters of the government parties.

"The Finns Party is gaining supporters from the Centre, the SDP and those who have been previously undecided, in other words, people who aren't very engaged with politics," Turja says.

On Tuesday, the final day covered by this poll, the leader of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Antti Rinne, stepped down as prime minister. After less than six months in office, his five-party centre-left coalition became a caretaker government pending the naming of a new prime minister and talks on re-forming the coalition.

NCP begins to recover

The NCP also seems to be benefiting from being in opposition. The pro-business, pro-Nato group's popularity has edged up to 18.6 percent since last spring's parliamentary election, when it scored 17 percent support.

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Keskustan puheenjohtaja Katri Kulmuni saapuu eduskuntaryhmän kokoukseen keskustelemaan pääministeri Antti Rinteen luottamuksesta eduskunnassa Helsingissä 3. joulukuuta.
Centre chair Katri Kulmuni Image: Mikko Stig / Lehtikuva

The SDP sees its backing decline to 13.2 percent, compared to 17.7 percent in the election.

Suffering the worst losses among the government partners is the Centre, which led the previous government. Despite choosing a new leader in the early autumn, the party sees its support slump by 2.3 percentage points to 10.6 percent. That's the lowest ever in its 113-year history.

"The biggest beneficiary has been the Finns Party, but the Centre is also increasingly leaking support to the NCP. There is also a significant bloc of previous Centre voters who have now increasingly withdrawn to the sidelines," observes Turja.

Government parties support at 50%

The five government parties had the combined support of half of respondents. The most popular of them at the moment appears to be the Greens at 13.9 percent, dipping slightly in recent months.

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Li Andersson
Left Alliance chair Li Andersson Image: Akseli Muraja / Lehtikuva

Of the government parties, only the Left Alliance saw a rise in popularity last month, nudging up half a percentage point to 8.4 percent.

There were no significant changes in support for the small parties, which all scored below four percent.

Between 11 November and 3 December, Taloustutkimus interviewed nearly 3,000 people, of whom just over 2,000 expressed a party preference. It estimates the margin of error at 1.8 percentage points.

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