Willingness to defend the country

Updated: 14 Dec 2018
Next update: 13 Dec 2019

From the year 1970 onwards, ABDI Surveys have charted the willingness to defend the country with the question ”If Finland were attacked, should Finns, in your opinion, take up arms to defend themselves in all situations, even if the outcome seemed uncertain?” The annual surveys, conducted by the Advisory Board for Defence Information, focus on security and foreign policy and national defence, charting Finnish public opinion on these issues. FSD collections cover data from 1992.

The indicator data are based on ABDI research reports and mainly originate from surveys conducted in the autumn. The year 1970 and 1971 surveys were conducted by the predecessor of ABDI, the Planning Board for Psychological Defence. About a thousand people living in Finland aged 15 - 74 (79) respond to the survey annually. The sample is weighted to represent the Finnish population.

The question on the willingness to defend the country was originally a translation from a question used in Sweden. Styrelsen för psykologiskt försvar has been using the question its surveys in Sweden since the year 1952. In 2009, the Styrelsen was integrated into Myndigheten för samhällsskydd och beredskap MSB which has continued the surveys. The reports are published online: www.msb.se


Decrease in will to defend the nation

Two thirds of respondents, or 66 per cent (72 % in 2017), feel that if Finland is attacked, Finns must defend themselves by military means in all situations, even if the outcome is uncertain. This view was expressed by 70 per cent (79 %) of men and 62 per cent (66 %) of women.

Among respondents younger than 25 years of age, 49 per cent (66 % in 2017) held this view, compared with 62 per cent (66 %) of 25–34-year-olds, 69 per cent (73 %) of 35–40-year-olds and 72 per cent (76 %) of 50–79-year-olds.

Eighty percent (73 % in 2017) of Centre Party supporters answered this question in the affirmative, as did 73 per cent (82 %) of Finns Party supporters, 71 per cent (68 %) of SDP supporters, 65 per cent (80 %) of Coalition Party supporters, 55 % (67 %) of Left Alliance supporters and 36 per cent (65 %) of Green Party supporters.

A total of 23 per cent (22 % in 2017) of respondents answered the question in the negative, or 23 per cent (25 %) of women and 22 per cent (19 %) of men.

Thirty-eight per cent of respondents under 25 years of age (28 % in 2017) held this view, along with 28 per cent (28 %) of 25–34-year-olds, 19 per cent (23 %) of 35–49-year-olds and 18 per cent (17 %) of 50–79-year-olds.

Forty-nine per cent of Green Party supporters answered in the negative (29 % in 2017), as did 30 per cent of Left Alliance supporters (24 %), 24 per cent of Coalition Party supporters (18 %), 21 per cent of Finns Party and SDP supporters (15 % and 25 %, respectively) and 15 per cent of Centre Party supporters (24 %).

A total of 11 per cent (6 % in 2017), or 14 per cent (10 %) of women and eight per cent (2 %) of men, had no opinion.