Finnish poll shows mild support for NATO membership despite tensions with Russia

A new poll indicates one in three Finns would support Finland’s membership in NATO if President Sauli Niinistö endorsed it. (Georges Gobet/AFP/Getty Images)
A new poll by Finland’s Lännen Media suggests that a third of Finns would support Finland’s membership in NATO if President Sauli Niinistö endorsed it.

Supporters of the Swedish People’s Party of Finland (centrist) – 72 percent of them – were the most positive about Finland joining the US-led military alliance, together with Blue Reform (centre-right) and National Coalition Party (centre-right) voters.

In contrast, only 30 percent of Finns Party (nationalist) supporters said they would endorse an application to the 29-member bloc.

Half still oppose membership

Half of those polled said they would not warm to NATO even if Niinistö argued that membership would be in Finland’s best interest, the survey showed.

Previously, support for NATO has hovered around 20 percent.

“Even though Niinistö is a popular president, it does not mean that Finns cannot disagree with him on specific subject matters”, says Teija Tiilikainen from the Finnish Institute of International Affairs.

Last week, the US online news service Buzzfeed reported it had obtained an intercepted cable from the US State Department, where Finland was said to be subject to Russian media attacks aiming “to create distrust between leaders and citizens and raise suspicions about joining NATO.”

At the end of July, Russia’s defence minister Sergei Shoigu said Finland’s membership in NATO could force Russia to take counter-measures.

The poll of 1,007 people was undertaken by Taloustutkimus in June and July. The survey has a margin of error of +/-3 percent.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canada extends air defence monitoring zone to entire Canadian Arctic, Radio Canada International

Finland: Finland, Sweden and US building three-way defence ties, Yle News

Norway: How vulnerable is Norway to hybrid warfare?, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Russia’s Northern Fleet works on increasing ties with Chinese Navy, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Sweden’s Defence minister responds to Russia’s “false” claims about NATO deal, Radio Sweden

United States: Alaska senators blast Trump for going soft on Putin, Alaska Public Media

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