Kivirähk: Ratas' levelheadedness seeing support for Centre recover

Anvar Samost, Urmet Kook and Juhan Kivirähk.
Anvar Samost, Urmet Kook and Juhan Kivirähk. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Sociologist Juhan Kivirähk finds that supporters of the Centre Party have begun to return to the party's fold courtesy of the conduct and manner of Prime Minister Jüri Ratas.

"People lost trust in the Centre Party after elections. Ratas has been doing a good job managing the government since then, running from fire to fire and putting them out," Kivirähk said on ERR's Otse uudistemajast program on Thursday.

Journalist Anvar Samost added that support for Centre is largely down to its chairman Jüri Ratas' popularity. "On the background of general thrashing about and yelling, the PM comes off courteous and even statesmanlike. Ratas has also kept his personal connections hidden," Samost added.

Kivirähk added that Centre's most loyal supporters are pensioners and Russian-speaking voters, even though the latter tend to be quite sensitive. He gave the example of Narva and Kohtla-Järve where support for Centre fell after passions flared up surrounding education recently.

Support for the ruling Centre Party came to 25 percent in December, up 2 points since November. It is the best result for the party since Election Day in March when Centre managed 23.1 percent.

The opposition Reform Party remains people's first choice, taking 29 percent of the potential vote in December in pollster Turu-uuringute AS' monthly survey commissioned by ERR.

Kivirähk said that simply criticizing the government will not be enough for Reform to retain its rating and that alternative solutions and plans need to be proposed.

Centre's coalition partner Isamaa that took 11.4 percent of the vote in the March elections has lost ground since then to land on 5 percent in December. "Support for Isamaa started falling when the party formed the current government with Centre and the Conservative People's Party (EKRE)," Kivirähk said. He recalled that support for Isamaa last fell abruptly after it former the previous government with Centre.

Urmet Kook said that while Isamaa might sport a modest rating in polls, its effective election campaigns and well-known members have yielded the party much better election results.

Talking about a new potential coalition, Samost said he wouldn't rule out a government of EKRE and the Reform Party. Kook added that this would require Reform to replace Kaja Kallas as chairman as she has ruled out cooperation with the national conservatives. A tried and tested triumvirate of Reform, the Social Democratic Party (SDE) and Isamaa would be a more realistic prospect, while Isamaa's bitter memories from their previous time working with Reform might stand in the way of such a combination.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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