Public support in Finland for membership in NATO has “fallen sharply”

Finnish interest in NATO membership lowest since Iraq war

From Helsingin Sanomat:  Support for membership in the NATO military alliance has fallen sharply in the past year and a half. According to a poll commissioned by Helsingin Sanomat and conducted by TNS Gallup, more than two thirds of Finns (68 per cent) are against joining the alliance.

The last time in the new century that support for joining NATO has been this low was in 2003 – when the United States went to war with Iraq.

Attitudes have changed especially among supporters of the National Coalition Party, who have traditionally been the most pro-NATO of all; now 54 per cent of supporters of the National Coalition Party are against joining NATO.

Green league party secretary Panu Laturi feels that the result is significant. “The results show clearly that appreciation for military non-alignment has grown in Finland. People see that with the somewhat uncertain situation that prevails in Russia, joining the alliance would not improve the situation in Finland. . . .”

In the view of Teija Tiilikainen, director of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, and the editor-in-chief of the institute’s publication Ulkopolitiikka, one reason for the figures is that the period in which the survey was taken was fairly quiet on the foreign policy front. "No party has an active NATO campaign. The theme has also been downplayed in the presidential elections.”

One factor keeping the NATO issue as a low priority in presidential election debates has been that none of the candidates have made a point of supporting NATO membership.  (graphic: YLE)

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