Finnish Local Elections: the Left Alliance Aims for Success

On 9 April municipal elections will take place in Finland. Experience shows that the more candidates a party puts forward, the better its electoral result. What is more, polls are also predicting a positive outcome for the “Left Alliance” – for the first time since 1976, the party has reason to hope for success.

The Left Alliance is putting forward candidates in 9.4% of all seats – exactly the same number as in 2012. In the sizable cities of southern and central Finland, in particular, the party has been able to field a high number of candidates, while losing some in the mainly rural municipalities in the north. The Left Alliance has traditionally had the maximum number of candidates in many large cities, such as Helsinki, Tampere, Turku and Oulu.

Polls give reason to be optimistic

Experience shows that the number of candidates is a very good indicator for predicting the outcome in local elections. Together with positive opinion poll ratings both nationally and locally, the Left Alliance may expect a local election victory for the first time since 1976. Recent opinion polls indicate that the Left Alliance would receive approximately 8.5% of votes compared to the 8% it garnered in 2012 municipal elections and the 7.1% it scored in the 2015 parliamentary elections. In 2012, the Left Alliance managed to win 640 council seats.

Losses for right-wing populists

The Finns party has lost over half of its support since the 2015 parliamentary elections. In 2015 it won 17.7% of the vote, while recent opinions polls predict that this time they will only score around 8-9%. Support for The Finns in municipal elections has been significantly lower than in parliamentary elections (12% in 2012) and the number of candidates for The Finns dropped by more than average, even though the party put a great deal of effort into finding individuals to run. In many municipalities councillors representing The Finns have left to join other parties. For example, in Helsinki, four out of eight councillors for The Finns who were elected in 2012 are now candidates for other parties, ranging from right to left: the Coalition Party, Christian Democrats, Left Alliance and the Finnish Communist Party.

Social Democrats lead in the polls

The Social Democratic Party is currently leading in opinion polls and may win approximately 20-21% of the vote compared with 19.6% in 2012, while the conservative Coalition Party, which was the biggest winner in 2012, may see its share drop from 21.9% in 2012 to 18.4%. The Coalition Party has also had difficulty finding candidates; its candidate share has decreased the most. If opinion polls are to be believed, the Centre Party, the party of the current Prime Minister, is on course to receive approximately the same share of the vote as in 2012 municipal elections, but significantly less than in the 2015 parliamentary elections.
The predicted losses for two of the three governing coalition parties (the Centre Party, Coalition Party and The Finns) may lead to increased discord in government.