Support for independents in polls growing, survey shows ({{commentsTotal}})

Free Party chairman Andres Herkel thinks Estonia's large parties are hampering its development. The party has decided to either support independents or run on their lists in the 2017 local elections.
Free Party chairman Andres Herkel thinks Estonia's large parties are hampering its development. The party has decided to either support independents or run on their lists in the 2017 local elections. Source: (ERR)

Electoral alliances and independent candidates could expect to get 29 percent of the vote, and the top ranked party, Center, 27 percent of the vote if local elections were to be held tomorrow, a survey conducted by Kantar Emor for BNS and daily Postimees last week showed.

According to the survey, all other political parties are trailing far behind.

“Electoral alliances and independent candidates are usually the preference of those who attach more value to a candidate’s person than their party allegiance," Aivar Voog, expert at Kantar Emor, told Postimees. “When the elections come nearer and the people running on the party lists are named, one usually finds a suitable person to vote for also on the list of some political party,” he added.

“The Center Party definitely isn’t against electoral alliances, we have no wish to do away with electoral alliances in Estonia. If people wish to set up electoral alliances and run on an equal footing with political parties, they must have this possibility,” Prime Minister Jüri Ratas commented. He added that the Center Party’s high rating in the poll demonstrated its professionalism in managing local affairs.

Urmas Sukles, a prominent member of the Reform Party, decided already six months ago to shun the party’s dictate and try and attract the support of voters with an electoral alliance, Postimees said.

“I've tried making it to the Riigikogu once and it’s not something for me,” Sukles said. “The rationale behind electoral alliances is simple: if you make a strong list of local people, the party list simply isn’t attractive any longer. We will enter the election with the definite wish to win the majority.”

Chairman of the Reform Party, Hanno Pevkur, told Postimees earlier this week that people like Sukles couldn’t count on the party’s support, and would have no place on the list of the Reform Party in parliamentary elections.

Voog also pointed out that there are reasons to think that in this year’s elections, alliances would get a bigger share than in the last elections in 2013.

He pointed out, however, that alliances and independents had ranked highly at close to 30 percent in approval ratings also before the 2013 elections. Later, in the elections, they had only scored 23 percent. The closer one got to the 2013 elections, the lower the percentage of respondents in surveys became who said they would vote for an alliance or an independent candidate.

In the last three local elections, the share of alliances and independents in the nationwide vote has ranged from 20 percent in 2005 to 27 percent in 2009, coming in between the two at 23 percent in 2013.

The success of independents in 2009 can be attributed to people who used to run on the list of the now defunct People’s Union (Rahvaliit) in the 2005 election running on the lists of electoral alliances in that year, before joining the lists of other parties such as IRL in 2013.

In the Kantar Emor survey, Center had a nationwide rating of 27 percent and alliances and independents were backed by 25 percent of voters. If we add to this the 4 percent rating of the Free Party, which has said it intends to take part in the October municipal elections either as part of electoral alliances or as their backer depending on the municipality, 29 percent of respondents are prepared to vote for an electoral alliance or an independent candidate.

According to the same survey, 16 percent of voters nationwide would vote Reform, 12 percent Social Democrats (SDE), 9 percent Conservative People's Party (EKRE) and 6 percent Pro Patria and Res Publica Union (IRL). Twenty-two percent of respondents were unable to name their preference.

Local elections in Estonia will be held on Oct. 15 this year. Unlike in parliamentary elections, also permanent residents and holders of long-term residence permits of Estonia who are not citizens of the country can vote in local elections.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

Source: BNS



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