Party ratings: Reform Party's lead has returned ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Reform Party headquarters.
Reform Party headquarters. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The Reform Party is still the most popular party in Estonia and if Riigikogu elections were to be held now, 34.8 percent of voters would cast their vote in favor of the largest opposition party, a survey commissioned by the daily Postimees and BNS and carried out by pollster Kantar Emor found.

Of the respondents, 17.9 percent would vote in favor of the prime minister's party, the Center Party, and 15.6 percent would support the Estonian Conservative People's Party (EKRE), the survey data shows.

Following EKRE is the Social Democratic Party (SDE) with a rating of 13.7 percent. The third coalition partner, Isamaa, is supported by 6.7 percent of respondents with a party preference. 

Aivar Voog, survey manager at Kantar Emor, said party ratings have more or less returned to the level they were at in October. "The turbulent November turned out to have a short-term impact, although the option that something could have started to change significantly in terms of party support was definitely also in the air," Voog said.

In the limelight of the November interview period were scandals concerning EKRE's former rural affairs minister Mart Jarvik as well as the attempts regarding the sacking of Illar Lemetti, secretary general of the Ministry of Rural Affairs - a lot of the attention was gathered around the actions and statements of EKRE ministers.

Within the interview period in early December were discussions concerning the pharmacy reform, the adoption of the new state budget, the appointment of Arvo Aller as the new minister of rural affairs and the demonstration held by farmers.

However, support for EKRE fell the furthest. While in November, altogether 18.5 percent of people with a party preference would have cast their vote in favor of the party, the share of EKRE supporters has fallen to 15.6 percent in December. The 2.9 percent drop in support for EKRE is also greater than the survey's maximum error margin, which is 2.6 percent.

One group of voters was likely to have been disappointed that an EKRE minister was unable to fulfill their promise to ensure a full €15.3 million transitional support for farmers for 2020.

Although the government allocated farmers €5 million from the reserve before the adoption of the state budget, increasing transitional support to €10.3 million, this achievement, too, was accompanied by a statement of Finance Minister Martin Helme in which he said that if the farmers are not satisfied with this, there will not be anyone in the government to stand up for them in the future.

"EKRE will definitely need to keep up emotions and tension to maintain its distinctive profile," Voog said. 

Figures from the survey show that for the Centre Party, led by Prime Minister Juri Ratas, November was only a temporary setback. "In the long run, it would definitely have a positive impact on the Centre Party if these emotional conflicts, such as which happened in November, stopped," Voog said.

By December, the Centre Party had gained the support of 17.9 percent of respondents with a party preference, which is the best result so far after the elections. At the same time, the direction the support for the prime minister's party is moving is generally positive - while support for the party is increasing gradually after entering into a coalition with EKRE and Isamaa, the party has not come even close to the results they had before the Riigikogu elections in March.

The opposition SDE, which in November was as popular as the prime minister's party with the support of 16.2 percent and saw its greatest support in recent years, had to acknowledge in light of the December results that this was only a temporary spurt. At the same time 13.7 percent of respondents with a party preference would cast their votes in favor of the party in December, which is - excluding the surprise growth spurt in November - the best result of the last year, at least.

Compared with November, the share of respondents of the survey who were unable to name a party preference has increased in December.

If Riigikogu elections were held today, 21.5 percent of respondents would not be able to give a party preference, while this indicator stood at 17.7 percent in November. According to Voog, this is a normal post-election process whereby the willingness of respondents to identify themselves with a party is gradually diminishing. "It has been around 30 percent a year or two after elections," the survey manager said.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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