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Poll suggests only one in three sure of voting in June EU elections
Strongest commitment to vote among conservatives and Left Alliance supporters
According to a survey carried out on behalf of Helsingin Sanomat, the elections for the European Parliament to be held in June do not appear to be inspiring the Finns with any greater enthusiasm to vote than they did in 1999. Only 32% of respondents said they were sure they would cast their vote.
The survey asked just over 1,400 individuals, and the most recent interviews were made last week. The number of people absolutely certain they will go to the polls is smaller than it was in 1999, when a similar survey was made just two weeks before the Euro-elections.
On this occasion there are still some six weeks to go, however, and it is to be assumed that the parties’ campaigning and media attention will push the figure upwards somewhat.
Even so, the study by Suomen Gallup makes for depressing reading among party officials. Young people are clearly unmoved by the elections – in the 18-24 age category the proportion saying they will certainly vote is just 16%. This compares with 40% for those in the 50-64 years category.
Equally, when the study looks at the breakdown by occupation, workers are at the bottom of the pile, with just 22% showing they will vote, as against nearly half of all senior clerical staff. This is likely to be reflected in the respective performance of the parties if it manifests itself on election day.
Supporters of the Left Alliance show the strongest loyalties towards voting, with 56% saying they will turn out. The moderate conservative National Coalition Party can also call on 45% of those respondents who said they backed the party. However, the figures for supporters of the Social Democrats and the Centre Party are only around 35%. In geographical terms, the Helsinki region and the surrounding Uusimaa Province show appreciably more enthusiasm for the elections than do more remote regions.
At the previous elections for the European Parliament in 1999, the voter turnout in Finland was just 31.4%. This was one of the lowest figures anywhere in the Union, and was beaten only by the United Kingdom and The Netherlands. It compares very unfavourably with the response in Parliamentary and Presidential elections, which has remained around or over 70%, despite a recent declining trend.
On the international plane, however, the Finnish behaviour this time around seems to be no great exception to the norm. All reports point to only around one EU-voter in three using their democratic right. In 1999 the Union-wide percentage turnout was 49%.