Latest Poll Shows Support For Niinistö Strong, But Slipping

Battle for second place, as candidates try to get enough support to force a second round run-off against incumbent Sauli Niinistö.

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Election billboards in downtown Helsinki / Credit: News Now Finland

A new opinion poll conducted by Gallup and commissioned by Helsingin Sanomat newspaper shows support for incumbent President Sauli Niinistö strong, but slipping slightly, with ten days before election day.

The survey found that 68% of voters would elect Niinistö (NCP, CD) in the first round of voting on 28th January.

That’s down from December, when the figure was 75%. Niinistö has enjoyed sky high polling numbers throughout the campaign, with many commentators speculating whether he could win outright in the first round of voting with more than 50% of the vote.

Green Alliance candidate Pekka Haavisto is second in the new survey, with 11% support. Haavisto contested the last presidential election in 2012 and rode a wave of popular support to the second round of voting, ultimately losing to Niinistö by a two-to-one margin. The Greens enjoy support in urban areas, but lack popularity in the countryside. This time around Haavisto’s campaign has failed to catch fire, and he’s been languishing far behind Niinistö for many months.

In third place, veteran politician Paavo Väyrynen has 8% of support according to the new survey. This is Väyrynen’s fourth bid to be president of Finland. Three times previously he contested the race, as the Centre Party’s candidate. This time around he is running as an independent, and gathered more than 20,000 signatures to get his name on the ballot. It’s significant that former Centre Party stalwart Väyrynen seems to be doing better than the official Centre Party candidate.

The remaining candidates Tuula Haatainen (SDP); Merja Kyllönen (Left); Nils Torvalds (Swedes); Matti Vanhanen (Centre) and Lauri Huhtasaari (Finns) are trailing at the back of the pack, with currently between 1% and 5% support each.

Advance voting started on 17th January and continues until 20th January at hundreds of polling places around the country in post offices and libraries. Election day is on Sunday 28th January.

If no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote in the first round, a second round of voting will be held between the top two candidates on 11th February.