Recent immigrant violence pushes up populist support in Finland: poll

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HELSINKI, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- While the contention of the Social Democratic Party and the conservative National Coalition Party about the leading position remains narrow, a relatively large increase in the support of the populist Finns Party captured the attention on Thursday.

In a poll commissioned by the national broadcaster Yle, the Finns Party gained two percentage points and its support reached 10.2 percent. The party is now the fifth in the national support ranking, but both the party leader Jussi Halla-aho and observers attributed the increase to the recent news about violence associated with immigrants.

It was also said the Finns Party has a clearer line in the climate and energy policies. "These are developments we have warned about for years," Halla-aho said. At the end of December 2018, a survey commissioned by Alma Media indicated the same trend.

Halla-aho predicted that his party would get a better result in the April election.

An investigation is going on in Oulu, northern Finland into alleged raping by eight men of foreign descent. And another one is about Christmas Eve killing of a seven-year-old by his uncle. Police has defined him as a foreign citizen, but not given any nationality.

The opposition social democrats were in the lead with 21.2 percent and it declined slightly. The conservative National Coalition increased support and was now only 0.8 percent behind the social democrats with 19.6 percent support.

Local commentators have expressed the view that it is very unlikely that the Center Party would bounce back from its current 16.1 percent. This would indicate the position of the next prime minister would be subject to a duel between the social democrats and the conservatives.

Analysts have believed that labor relations and job security issues are likely to be prominent in the election debates. The four-year tenure of the current center right coalition under the centrist Prime Minister Juha Sipila has seen many conflicts about labor issues.

Experts have said that while labor legislation in Finland has traditionally been a tool to protect the employees, changes pursued by the current government have been aiming at easing the role of the employers and reducing the employer-risks in offering a job.

The Green Party is at 13.6 percent, which would give them their new record number of seats. Since Pekka Haavisto was elected as interim chairman following the resignation of Touko Aalto in November 2018, the backing of the greens started increasing but is leveling off now.

At the peak of their support in late summer 2017, the greens were the second largest party with 17.6 percent, after the conservatives, and they themselves said they would aim at being the largest party. But their support declined then drastically. Enditem

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