Brexit mess scares Finnish voters away from seeking ‘Fixit’ vote

Britain’s decision to quit the EU was all it took to terrify Finnish voters, with more than two-thirds now affirming their loyalty to the bloc.

A poll published on Thursday indicated a stunning shift in sentiment in Finland, the Nordic region’s only euro member.

The Iltalehti poll shows that 69% of Finns don’t want a British style in-out vote. And if a referendum on the EU was held, 68% would vote to stay.

“Brexit seems to have had an impact on Finnish attitudes toward the EU,” said Teija Tiilikainen.

For Finland, the result is that voters are now “seeking safety” in the status quo.

The poll, which carries a margin of error of 2.5 points, was conducted on June 28-29, just as Britain descended into political chaos and EU leaders met to discuss the fallout across the continent.

Before the June referendum, Finland’s electorate had been more evenly split. In a March poll by Helsingin Sanomat, 43% of voting Finns wanted a referendum, with only 56% of the electorate wanting to stay in.

The development suggests that, far from unleashing a populist wave, Brexit appears to have given European citizens some pause.

In Spain, voters last weekend shied away from anti-establishment parties such as Podemos and threw their weight behind caretaker prime minister Mariano Rajoy.

With a 1,340km joint border with Russia, Finland has relied on its EU membership to shield it from an increasingly antagonistic neighbour.

Though the country’s economic plight — unemployment is more than 10% after three years of GDP contraction — has led some to question euro membership, the majority of Finns have remained loyal to the single currency.

Even the man behind the so-called “Fixit” push, former foreign minister Paavo Vayrynen, concedes his country is unlikely to re-introduce the markka anytime soon.

The government, which is run by a self-made millionaire eager to reform the economy, has been unequivocal about its support for the EU. After the Brexit result was announced, prime minister Juha Sipila was quick to tweet that “the EU project goes on.”

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