Opposition Reform Party, which has seen a rise in its ratings in recent weeks, has extended its lead over the ruling coalition's senior member Center Party to 9 percentage points, it appears from a survey commissioned by the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues and carried out by pollster Norstat.
The latest results of the survey show that the Reform Party is supported by 32.4 percent, the Center Party by 23.4 percent and the Estonian Conservative People's Party (EKRE) by 16.4 percent of voting-age citizens.
The latest aggregate results cover the period from June 29 to July 28, during which 4,001 voting-age citizens were polled.
The biggest opposition party has seen its lead over Center expand from 3.6 percentage points at the end of May to 9 points in the latest aggregate results.
Center meanwhile has a seven point lead over EKRE, the bigger of its two junior partners in the governing coalition.
The top three are followed by the Social Democratic Party (SDE) with 9.2 percent, the non-parliamentary party Estonia 200 with 7.7 percent, and Isamaa with 5.7 percent.
The three parties of the ruling coalition -- Center, EKRE and Isamaa -- are supported by a total of 45.5 percent of voters and those of the opposition by 41.6 percent.
Speaking about the latest survey, researcher Martin Molder said the summer has had a positive effect on the ratings of the opposition parties, while support for Center and EKRE - measured as an average - has been declining since May. The rating of the third government party, Isamaa, has been stable.
"In previous weeks we saw that relative support for the Reform Party has increased primarily because the absolute number of supporters of the Center Party was declining. That's also what it is doing now, in addition, we can see in the latest ratings that the Reform Party has also probably started gaining new supporters," Molder said.
Commenting on the 9 percent gap between Reform and Center, he said while it may look sizeable now, when viewed in the longterm, the situation looks a bit different.
"Last summer we saw support for the Reform Party climb to more than 38 percent during the summer and that of the Center Party come down to 18 percent - the difference then was 20 percent. Back then the summer trend started to reverse in August. We will have to wait until the end of the summer to see whether there is the same kind of summer fluctuation this time around," Molder added.
He said that speaking about the past year, it still holds true that support for Center has been on an upward trend and support for Reform on a decline.
"To reverse this picture, the gap between the two big rivals has to expand for a long time yet and become much wider," Molder added.
In presenting the results, the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues and Norstat Eesti AS have focused on the aggregate result of the last four weeks. This means that the sample is at least 4,000 people and the statistical error is +/- 1.55 percent.
The Institute for the Study of Societal Issues (MTU Uhiskonnauuringute Instituut) is a think tank established in January 2016.
Editor: Helen Wright