Perspective: In the spring 2023 elections, populists may come to power in Finland as well

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Citizens are now worried about rising prices. If the development of moods continues at the same pace, the politics may still change radically before the next parliamentary elections, writes Juho Rahkonen. -in-the-elections-populists-might-rise-to-power-myoumls-in-suomi-08599f0.jpg” alt=”View angle: In the spring 2023 elections, populists may also come to power in Finland” />

The coalition led by Petteri Orpo (left) is at the top of the polls, but the Basic Finns can rise even before the elections. In the picture on the right, the chairman Riikka Purra. HENRI KÄRKKÄINENYesterday at 8:28

Even though prices are rising at a faster rate than in decades and the financial situation of many citizens is being tested, there is a rare calm in the political support measurements.

As an opinion pollster, I've been wondering about one thing all spring and summer: if with these fuel prices and economic expectations, populist and nationalist parties don't increase their support, then why?

There are many reasons for the lukewarm attitude of Finns:

1.Since the winter, the war in Ukraine has dominated the news headlines and shocked citizens – for good reason, after all, war is a terrible accident and a human tragedy. As long as we talk about “Putin prices”, inflation can be entirely attributed to the war, although there are also reasons related to emissions trading and the European countries' own political decisions.

2.

strong> Energy and food are essential basic commodities; in the language of economics, their price elasticity is very low. So a gasoline or diesel truck that costs well over two euros always seems worth the price, and you always have to buy food as well. The citizen's rubber band stretches quite far in these matters, because there are no alternatives.

3.A large part of the Finnish population is quite well protected against inflation and interest rates. Especially among the supporters of the current main government party SDP and the center, a significant part are pensioners, whose mortgages are paid, whose children have flown out of the nest, and who don't even have to drive to work. They are active voters and influencers of opinion, and there are many of them. The fact that the gray panthers are the most enthusiastic respondents to opinion surveys also speaks of social activity and the use of power, although age group distortions are corrected in the final results with statistical weighting coefficients.

Young people in Finland are small, and they are politically inactive. Because of this, for example, the support of the Greens has not increased as predicted by the population statistics, even though as recently as 2017 I even thought of them as the prime minister's party. Young people only watch TikTok and party at parties, and the problems of everyday life such as energy and food prices do not appear to them as political issues.

On the other hand, because the older age groups have had time to accumulate wealth and savings in the good times of the past decades, they have been able to help their own adult children and their children. Thanks to the sense of responsibility and generosity of baby boomers, today's families with children do not have it as tight as it would be without their help, and this also reduces voter dissatisfaction and curbs the rise of populism. Of course, it must be remembered that not everyone has wealthy parents.

4.The Finnish field of populism is scattered like Jokinen's snacks. Basic Finns lack a key ingredient according to the definition of populism: a charismatic leader. Such as Timo Soini used to be. Many who support basic Finns in principle suspect that the current chairman Riikka Purra is actually a member of the Green Party. Nor does it seem to be enough to raise the support of basic Finns anymore that the immigrants that Finland desperately needs are made scapegoats for problems that they have no part in and no part in solving. However, it has not been enough before.

Finnish populism is also scattered in its attitude towards Russia. On the other hand, Jussi Halla-aho, one of the central figures of the movement, represents a very strong anti-Russia and Finland's support for the NATO line, which has made him an outcast among many who think fundamentally Finnish.

Ano Turtiainen, separated from the Basic Finns, might act as a Victor Orbán-type strong, charismatic populist leader, but there doesn't seem to be room for such a strong figure in the Finnish political field. Also, the people who will potentially vote for him are so different on so many other things. This became evident, for example, in the Convoy demonstrations of the winter, from which the Power belongs to the people party called Turtiainen out, to the disappointment of many extreme right-wingers.

It is also clear that no attempt to understand or interpret Russia's point of view in Finland is widely supported. Here, even the most visible experts mainly say things that they assume the majority of the people want to hear.

5.Basic Finns and other populist parties have their strongest base of support in the less educated working population and small entrepreneurs. However, their percentage of voters is small, and they have their hands full with work to earn their living, so they are unlikely to be a significant force for political change.

With the help of such an electorate, Donald Trump was able to narrowly win the election in 2016. It was possible because in the USA there is no Nordic welfare state and its corresponding divisive parties, but there you have to work until the grave, unless you have taken care of your own social security. It can be said about the United States that there are really only two main parties: the coalition and the bastards.

6.During the corona pandemic, Finns got used to trusting their leaders and that the state will come to the rescue in the end games. According to surveys, Sanna Marin's (sd) government has enjoyed great popularity throughout its term. Debt relief of tens of billions of euros has played an important role in this, which has softened the shocks caused to the economy by the corona crisis. Many people also have stimulus money left in their pockets, and the corona savings are now enough to pay the increased prices, at least for a while.

The story continues after the picture.

The security policy has been the nation's leading news topic from February 24, but will there be a gasoline election next spring? PASI LEISMA

7.The last and perhaps the most important reason is that the heating season has not yet started. The summer season is a more relaxed time than usual for Finns anyway, a short-term breath of paradise during the year – you don't want to use it to worry about the future. For September-October, we can manage even with the current electricity and fuel prices, but then the wall will rise for many voters. And at that time the parliamentary elections are only half a year away.

There are no political forces of change in Finland – here there are only political forces of permanence, which cement the position of population groups that are already in a good situation.

But maybe this is just the calm before the storm. Currently, household electricity bills in the hot summer months are in the same range as they have normally been in the coldest winter months. So what will the situation be when the weather gets cold here again?

At the end of June, Taloustutkimus conducted a survey in which citizens were asked, using a 20-item list, what concerns they consider to be the most important, i.e. issues that politicians should particularly address.

At the moment, the most common concerns of Finns are inflation and rising energy prices. Mortti Saarnia

The same survey has now been repeated four times: as recently as March of this year, the biggest concern by far was the Russian military threat, which was mentioned by 74 percent of the respondents. In June, however, that figure had dropped to less than half, to 34 percent.

Now by far the most important concerns were general inflation (50 percent) and the rise in the price of energy, such as fuel and electricity (46 percent).

Supporters of basic Finns are worried about energy prices even more than average: 66 percent. Correspondingly, only 15 percent of Green supporters choose this issue as one of their concerns.

When Corona and NATO gradually fall into the background, the result of the spring 2023 elections may be decided by which parties succeed best in responding to these, probably only to growing concerns.

The author is a doctor of social sciences and research director of Economic Research.

Yle survey: Support for the coalition fell in June 7/7/2022 8:21 Mika Aaltola tells the condition , upon completion of which he will run for president on 13.7. 10:58 HS-gallup: President Niinistö's popularity in record readings – the Marini government's support also increased 7/7/2022 5:18

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