The Reform Party's mayoral candidate in Tallinn, Valdo Randpere, attributed disappointing support figures in a fresh poll Thursday to the positive messages at the crux of his campaign.
Meanwhile, coalition partner IRL's candidate, Eerik-Niiles Kross, has risen to become the main rival of the incumbent Tallinn mayor, Edgar Savisaar. Observers would agree that the thrust of Kross's campaign has largely been his assault on the ostensible wrongs of Savisaar's Center Party.
"We have knowingly run a positive campaign. It would be a bad message for Estonian politicians if it emerged that a substantive program and positive campaign are worth less than squabbling," Randpere told uudised.err.ee. "As the fresh survey shows, overthrowing Center Party power in Tallinn may depend precisely on the supporters of the Reform Party."
Randpere said the outcome of the election is teetering on the edge. "A big change could come because [Tallinn Mayor Edgar] Savisaar is on the verge of falling. But there is also a bad surprise hanging in the air if Reform Party supporters don't turn out for the elections," said Randpere, whose low support, critics say, is due to his passiveness.
A fresh poll commissioned by ERR and conducted by TNS Emor put Randpere's support at 4 percent, the lowest of the four parties. Support for the Reform Party in general was also relatively marginal, at 8 percent, compared with 50 percent held by the Center Party, 20 percent held by IRL and 15 percent held by the Social Democrats.
At a press conference today, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip noted the strong support for his Reform Party elsewhere in Estonia.
He expressed surprise that journalists didn't instead ask about his party's rising popularity, as according to a poll based on parliamentary elections preferences, support for Reform was 22 percent in October. For local elections it remained at 13 percent.
"The Reform Party's popularity has risen overall in Estonia. We are now in second place, true, behind the Center Party, but we were previously in third," Ansip said.
Fellow party member Jürgen Ligi lashed out at the quality of campaigns and the abundance of accusations seen in Tallinn.
"The opposition does not have any major differences in opinion: corruption, stealing, populism and all that," Ligi said.
"Every new candidate aspiring for power talks about how others are stealing and that is all. As a voter I would like to know what else a person will do other than what he would do anyway," Ligi said.