In the Tuesday presidential debate arranged by Helsingin Sanomat and the commercial television channel Nelonen, four Presidential candidates out of eight were of the opinion that gallup poll results should not be made public just before the election. The candidates complained that the gallup polls direct people’s voting behaviour and provide contradictory information. Addressing the situation by making changes to the country’s election laws seems unlikely, however, despite the fact that in certain European countries – France, for instance – this had been done. In Finland, too, putting restrictions in place on last-minute polls has been discussed, but such amendment preparations were never launched.
The National Coalition Party candidate Sauli Niinistö criticised polls for providing different kinds of messages, sometimes contradictory. He referred to two surveys published on the same day, in which the support percentages had been calculated in different ways. In one the percentage was calculated against the entire response material, in the other the replies of those who could not or did not want to reveal their stand were excluded.
“Naturally it is a problem when figures calculated in different ways are presented. This can be confusing”, political scientist Sami Borg says. In Borg’s opinion, banning polls is nevertheless not in line with today’s practices. “What is essential is that the conductors of the surveys and the media agree on the principles, how the results are published sensibly, and that the date when the survey was conducted is reported clearly”, Borg says.
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