Just under half, or 48 percent of respondents, replied yes when the Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle asked one thousand Finnish citizens whether Finland should hold an advisory referendum on NATO membership. Most of the supporters of the idea were in the over-65 age group and represented the low income bracket. Among the political parties, supporters of the Social Democrats were the most in favour of the vote, at 57 percent. Yle commissioned the poll from the polling company Taloustutkimus.

 

High-income earners oppose it

 

A lower percentage, 40 percent, opposed putting the NATO membership question to a people’s vote. Most of those that were against it were between the ages of 35 and 49, representing white-collar professions and entrepreneurs. The Yle poll found that half of people earning more than 45,000 euros a year opposed the referendum. Among political parties, adherents of the centre-right National Coalition Party were the strongest in their opposition, at 59 percent.

 

A vote soon?

 

The Yle poll also revealed that 32 percent of the sample’s respondents would prefer to see a referendum organised on NATO during this parliamentary term, before the end of 2018. Just slightly less, 31 percent, would rather see the vote held during the following 2019-2023 term. Another 19 percent were unable to say when a NATO referendum would be most timely.

 

Contradictory results

 

A second poll commissioned jointly by the commercial MTV broadcaster and the Tampere-based newspaper Aamulehti on the same subject was also released on Friday. In their results, 47 percent of respondents opposed the idea of an advisory referendum on NATO membership, while 42 percent felt it should be organised.

 

The margin of error for the Yle poll was 2.5 percentage points in either direction, while the MTV/Aamulehti poll had a corresponding 3-point margin.