Support for joining NATO appears to have slightly increased
Majority still oppose membership according to new poll
Although support for joining NATO appears to have increased in Finland, a fresh poll shows that a majority of Finns are still opposed to joining the alliance. The poll, commissioned by Helsingin Sanomat and conducted by Suomen Gallup, shows that 55 percent are against joining NATO.
Support for NATO is 26 percent, which is five points higher than in a poll taken a year and a half ago. Just under one in five did not have an opinion.
Opinions on the NATO issue have fluctuated considerably. In the runup to the Parliamentary elections of 2003, Suomen Gallup released NATO polls about once a month. In January of that year 56 percent opposed joining NATO. The figure rose to 68 percent in February, as the situation in Iraq became more tense.
Suomen Gallup has conducted polls on the NATO issue since 1995. Support for NATO was at its peak in 1998, when 29 percent were in favour of joining the alliance, and 48 percent were opposed.
In all other surveys, opponents of NATO membership were always in the majority.
Men take a more positive view of NATO membership than women. Support for NATO among men has grown by six percentage points during the past year, with 34 percent in favour of joining. There has been no change for women, 18 percent of whom are in favour of membership.
Feelings against joining NATO were strongest among young respondents under the age of 25, 61 percent of whom were against joining the alliance.
Support for NATO was highest among entrepreneurs, and among high-ranking white-collar professionals: more than one third in both groups were in favour of joining NATO. Manual labourers and students were staunchly opposed.
Majorities of supporters of all political parties, except the National Coalition Party, are opposed to joining NATO.
Respondents were also given a list of possible arguments in favour of NATO membership and asked which of them might seem acceptable.
Accepting one of the arguments does not mean that the respondent would be in favour of joining NATO as such.
A majority say that they might accept membership if Finland could decide which conflicts it would become involved in outside the country’s own borders, and if Finland’s own power to influence issues involving its own security would increase.
A majority also say that they could accept NATO membership in a situation in which all other EU countries are members of NATO, or if Russia were to pose a threat to Finland.
Possible Swedish membership in NATO would not have much of an influence on Finnish attitudes.
Previously in HS International Edition:
President Halonen rejects her predecessors NATO criticism (24.10.2005)
President Halonen predicts Finnish NATO membership in new biography (19.10.2005)
Former President Ahtisaari: Finnish NATO discussion hapless (18.10.2005)
NATO sees no need for Finland to reconsider relationship with alliance (4.10.2005)
Clear majority of Finns still opposed to NATO membership (28.2.2005)