Poll: More than a quarter of Finns would support president’s third term

The Rural Future survey finds more enthusiasm for a specific 'Niinistö exemption' in the constitution to allow him a third term in office, rather than a permanent change.

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President Niinistö gives his New Year 2020 official address / Credit: Riikka Hietajärvi, TPK

President Sauli Niinistö‘s popularity is so high that 26% of Finns say they would support an exemption to let him stay in office for a third term – even though Finland’s constitution expressly forbids it, and sets a two-term limit for presidents.

That’s the findings of a poll published Monday by Rural Future magazine which showed that although almost 60% of people don’t think the current president should be able to have a third term, a sizable minority are in favour, while 15% are not sure.

The biggest supporters of letting the president run again for office are from the National Coalition Party – the party Niinistö was associated with his whole political career until the 2018 election cycle – and the Finns Party. Supporters of Left Alliance and the Greens are the least likely to agree to a third term for Niinistö.

In the south of Finland more than 30% of people polled support a ‘Niinistö exemption’ while about 20% of people in the Helsinki capital region support the idea. In the rest of Finland roughly 30% support the concept with 27% of rural municipalities in favour of the exemption for the current president.

Overall, the Rural Future survey finds less support for any general change to the constitution to allow a third presidential term, and slightly more support for a Niinistö-specific change in the constitution.

Any changes to the constitution would have to be approved by five-sixths of MPs in Parliament. Finnish presidents are voted to office for six-year terms.