Poll: Finns Party surges in Vantaa at expense of other parties
The rise of the Finns Party in the Helsinki region appears to apply to Vantaa as well.
According to a fresh poll commissioned by Helsingin Sanomat and conducted by TNS Gallup, the Finns Party are set to become the third-largest group on the Vantaa City Council, if current trends hold through October 28th, the day of the municipal elections.
The poll gives the Finns Party 21.1 per cent support, up from less than ten per cent four years ago.
Such an outcome would put it in third place, right after the National Coalition Party (25.4 per cent) and the Social Democrats (23.1 per cent).
The Greens would get 11.6 per cent, putting them in fourth place, followed by the Left Alliance (6.0 per cent), the Centre Party (4.9 per cent), the Christian Democrats (3.3 per cent), and the Swedish People’s Party (3.1 per cent).
The race for the number-one spot is intense, as the gap among the top three - the National Coalition Party, the SDP, and the Finns Party - almost fits within the margin of error.
In Helsinki and Espoo, the National Coalition Party is well ahead of its closest rivals.
The struggle in Vantaa, traditionally a stronghold of the Social Democrats, is seen to be the most interesting race in the Helsinki region.
"The situation in Vantaa is the most even. There are three large parties now, any one of which could rise to the number one spot", says Juhani Pehkonen of TNS Gallup.
The poll would give the Finns Party six additional seats on the City Council, lifting their representation to 14.
The party would be the only one to increase the number of seats it has in Vantaa.
An election result like the one predicted by the poll could bring changes to the way that decisions are made in Vantaa.
So far, the National Coalition Party and the Social Democrats have been overwhelmingly the largest parties on the Vantaa City Council, holding a combined 38 of the 67 seats, allowing them to effectively decide on matters themselves, as long as they can strike some sort of accord.
If the election result were the same as the numbers in the poll, the top two would still hold a majority, albeit a very slim one: the National Coalition Party would get 18 seats, the SDP would get 16, and the Finns Party would get 14.
Pehkonen does not see the success of the Finns Party as very surprising.
He points out that the party took votes from the Social Democrats already in last year’s Parliamentary elections.
"Vantaa is a key area of support for the Finns Party. The only thing that causes uncertainty here is that Vantaa has large numbers of people who are undecided about their party, or about whether or not they will vote at all", Pehkonen observes.
In spite of the uncertainties, the survey predicts that the voter turnout will be higher this year than it was in the municipal elections of 2008.
Of all people of voting age, 65 per cent say that they are certain to vote in the elections.
In a survey held in October 2008 the figure was 57 per cent, and the turnout in the election that year was 54 per cent.
The poll suggests that the Green League will be slipping in Vantaa, as was the case in polls taken recently in Helsinki and Espoo.
The Greens are set to lose two percentage points compared with four years ago.
In addition, about half of declared supporters of the Greens said that they might change their minds before the elections.
This "lack of resolve" has been observed with the party's supporters in previous elections, and contrasts with the more dogmatically "there is no alternative" approach of SDP and National Coalition Party voters.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Intense competition for second place in Espoo City Council (11.10.2012)
Municipal Elections: Views of candidates of the Greens and the SDP not far from each other in Helsinki (9.10.2012)
Anticipated success of Finns Party would shake balance of power in Finnish local authorities (8.10.2012)