Expert: Jürgen Ligi only key Reform figure in the picture right now

Tõnis Stamberg.
Tõnis Stamberg. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Sociologist Tõnis Stamberg has justified Reform Party's recent large drop in support ratings, according to pollsters Turu-uuringute, saying the opposition party has not been in the media spotlight enough, coinciding with the both the public's and the media's reduced interest in politics in the summer months.

In a survey conducted by your company (Turu-uuringute AS), Reform's support dropped from 33 percent in June to 23 percent in August. You did not conduct the survey over July and the drop is substantial, possibly casting doubts on the results, from Reform's side. How would you explain this change?

Firstly, we should look at the general timeline and what has happened with Reform's support in the past. Looking at the last two years, the party's support has oscillated between 23 and 33 percent. Their ratings were low in January and February, at 25 and 26 percent respectively. It was 33 percent in June, the highest ever in surveys conducted by us.

At the same time, there have not been many internal politics scandals over two months. Granted, there have been discussions about the hiring of the U.S. law firm, but Reform's actions in opposition have not been in the media much, compared with those of Minister of Finance Martin Helme (who hired Freeh, Sporkin & Sullivan - ed.). Nevertheless, EKRE's support increased to 20 percent over the same period, in your survey.

Each survey has its own respondent,s and looking at recent media coverage of the two opposition parties, they have not been in the picture much. This is supplemented by one of our surveys showing the support of possible prime minister candidates and we can see a drop for Reform's leader (Kaja Kallas - ed.) there as well, compared to June.

I would not pay much attention to the drop in ratings. We are all coming back from vacation, people have not paid attention to politics, and have not read many articles on politics. Since everything is new again in September, this will also be the case in politics. Reporters who cover politics more will also return from summer. "Esimene stuudio" on ERR, for example.

Looking at it subjectively, I can say that besides Jürgen Ligi, there is noone from Reform to highlight as someone who has said something of note lately.

Ligi is head of the state budget control Riigikogu select committee, and heading investigations into the U.S. law firm hiring by EKRE leader Martin Helme - ed.

Lack of the opposition in the media should then also be reflected from the surveys of other research firms but pollsters Norstat and Kantar Emor also released their results on Wednesday, showing no large drop for Reform. Support still stands around 30 percent. Why do the results differ?

These surveys are likely conducted at different times. Meaning, what is important at the time of asking is key. We all know that parties throw several different messages into the media before elections, and the specific moment of doing support research can be very important in the results.

Certainly, it is difficult to explain such a large drop, but we must also consider the probablity of error. Taking it into account for June and August, the drop is not actually too large. And we must also consider that the 33 percent rating in June was the highest ever for Reform, and their usual level has been lower.

The latest party ratings survey conducted by Turu-uuringute AS shows Reform Party falling behind coalition Center for the first time since the general elections in 2019, falling from 33 percent support in June to 23 percent in August.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Kristjan Kallaste

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