Society Research: Differences of opinion have not escalated “systematically” in Finnish politics – views on immigration and NATO have converged

The study examined the development of the positions of Finnish parliamentary election candidates in 2011–2019. “The development of polarization is not visible or it is not as strong as thought,” says Paolo Fornaro, a researcher at the Institute for Business Research.

Polarization, ie the distance between political positions, has not systematically increased in Finnish politics, according to a recent research report published on Tuesday.

Researcher at the Institute for Business Research Paolo Fornaron made by survey shows that in the period under review between 2011 and 2019, the political positions of Finnish parliamentary candidates have even converged on certain issues.

Political the increase in polarization and the widening of social disparities has sparked widespread debate in recent times. The background is, among other things Donald Trumpin the rise of the President of the United States, the resignation of Britain to the EU and the rise of populist movements in Europe. Just last week Attack of Trump supporters on Congress again raised strong concerns about social division.

In his research report, Fornaro examines whether a similar development can be seen in Finland as well. Yle’s election machine responses in 2011, 2015 and 2019 have been used as material in the study.

The research is part of the multidisciplinary Citizenship Gaps and Bubbles project (BIBU).

Score show that there were clear differences in the views of the candidates depending on the party background. However, the differences between the views of the candidates have not systematically increased over that period.

For example, when asked about military membership in NATO membership or immigration, the positions of the candidates have rather converged. On the other hand, differences in the views of candidates on climate issues and attitudes towards euro membership have increased.

Differences in the cultural and economic dimensions seemed to remain unchanged over the years considered. In addition, on economic issues, the differences are very small, according to the report. In other words, most of the candidates had fairly similar views on economic policy.

“For example, the increase in the support of basic Finns has provoked a debate about the increase in polarization in Finland as well, but no such observation was observed in this study,” Fornaro summarizes the results of the study.

He points out that measuring attitudes and ideologies is always difficult and the method of research is not perfect.

“However, this already gives a pretty good feeling that the polarization trend is not visible or is not as strong as thought.”

The study does not take a position on the reasons for Finnish development. However, Fornaro thinks that, for example, the safety nets of a relatively strong welfare state and a comprehensive education system may have protected Finland to some extent from political polarization compared to some other countries.

One report The results also show that differences in income between municipalities seem to be related to differences in political positions: According to statistics, the larger the differences in income within a municipality, the farther the views of that municipality’s parliamentary candidates were from the averages of all candidates’ responses.

The result does not show a direct causal link between income disparities and political polarization. However, the interdependence between these factors persisted despite other background factors.

In other words, the polarization between the income categories of the municipality also predicted the distancing of the political positions of the candidates nominated in the municipality, as well as more sharp views.

“If economic inequality is widespread in a particular municipality, candidates may also need to seek votes in very different messages to reach groups in different life situations,” Fornaro estimates.

Now done the study only mapped the divergence of political positions between parliamentary candidates.

Fornaro also hopes for more research into the evolution of citizens’ political attitudes in order to get a more comprehensive picture of the development of polarization.

In recent years, different views on the polarization of Finnish politics have also been presented in the academic world. For example, Professor of Social Psychology at the University of Helsinki’s Swedish School of Social and Municipal Higher Education Jan-Erik Lönnqvist and Professor Emeritus of Social Psychology Klaus Helkama wrote after the last parliamentary elections in June 2019 that there are indications of increasing polarization in Finland as well.

For example, they raised a study on development at the University of Helsinki, which examined the attitudes of young adults before and after the 2015 parliamentary elections. In the election, the Basic Finns won the election and became the governing party for the first time.

“After the election victory of the Basic Finns, the attitudes of the supporters of the Greens and the Left Alliance had become even more pro-immigration. Among the supporters of other parties, those who withdrew from basic Finns also changed their attitude towards immigration to be more positive. So there was a clear desire to stand out from the basic Finns, ”Lönnqvist and Helkama wrote.

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