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Party Ratings: Isamaa dip below electoral threshold in June

Party support levels for the major Estonian parties, from left Reform, Center, EKRE, Estonia 200, SDE, Isamaa and the Estonian Greens, as of June 2020 and according to Turu-uuringute.
Party support levels for the major Estonian parties, from left Reform, Center, EKRE, Estonia 200, SDE, Isamaa and the Estonian Greens, as of June 2020 and according to Turu-uuringute. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR; Kollaaž: JJ Oidermaa

While opposition Reform Party has seen an increase in support since May, according to a recent survey, coalition party Isamaa's support among respondents has fallen to a point where it has dipped below the electoral threshold and is below one party, Estonia 200, which has no Riigikogu representation. This has happened in the past too, though the party has bounced back on election day. Support for most other parties remained mostly unchanged.

Isamaa's support has fallen from 11 percent in May 2019, to the 5-7 percent range in the past six months, according to the survey, conducted by pollsters Turu-uuringute, and has now fallen below the 3 percent election threshold needed to obtain seats at the Riigikogu. In other words, if an election were held today the party would not win any seats, according to the survey (the threshold is 5 percent).

The three coalition parties, Center, EKRE and Isamaa, received 46 percent of support compared with 40 percent for the two opposition parties (Reform and SDE). However, support for the coalition had dropped by two percentage points on the previous month, while the opposition parties together had enjoyed a rise of three percentage points.

Total support for non-parliamentary parties stood at 11 percent, down from 13 percent last month.

Opposition parties

Reform, the largest party both in opposition and at the Riigikogu, with 34 seats, saw the largest rise in support among respondents to the survey. Whereas in February, support for Reform stood at 25 percent, in June it was 33 percent, Turu-uuringute says.

The Social Democratic Party support stood at 8 percent, again a figure little changed in recent months.

Coalition parties

Center, the largest coalition party with 25 Riigikogu seats, found 27 percent support among respondents in the Turu-uuringute research, relatively unchanged from last month.

The Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) stood at 16 percent of support. The party's ratings have remained quite stable, at between 15 and 20 percent, since the March 2019 election.

Non-parliamentary parties

Estonia 200, which was founded in 2018 and narrowly missed out on Riigikogu seats at the March 2019 election, was the largest non-parliamentary party in terms of support, and in fact outstripped SDE at 9 percent.

The Estonian Greens' support was reported at 2 percent, and support for another eco-focused party, Richness of Life, was 1 percent, both below the 5 percent threshold for seats.

The Free Party, which had half-a-dozen seats at the last (XIII) Riigikogu, stood at 0.3 percent. The party has only a little over 500 members, the figure required to be legally registered as a political party and a situation it has been in for the past couple of years or more.

As reported on ERR News, Richness of Life and the Free Party are planning to merge. Richness of Life's leading member, filmmaker Artur Talvik, is a former Free Party leader.

Isamaa's rating was below the threshold as noted, but this is not the first time it has put in such low figures, only to bounce back. In September 2018 its rating with Turu-uuringute was also 3 percent, but on election day last March the party polled 11.4 percent of the vote and won 12 seats, later reentering office with Center and EKRE following negotiations.

This is largely due to a "personality effect" where voters choose individual candidates primarily, rather than parties, particularly if the party runs well known candidates in key districts. Isamaa has one MEP, Riho Terras, who was able to take up his seat after the U.K. withdrawal from the EU led to an extra seat at the European Parliament being redistributed to Estonia.

The next elections are to local government, in October 2021.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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