Support for the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) has continued its downward trend recently, according to a recent survey.
The latest research, conducted by pollsters Norstat on behalf of NGO the Institute for Social Research (MTÜ Ühiskonnauuringute Instituut) saw Reform supported by 33.6 percent of respondents, Center by 23.2 per cent and EKRE by 15.6 per cent. Center and EKRE are in coalition, Reform in opposition.
Most parties' support has not changed radically over the past week, Norstat says, though EKRE's support has seen a downward movement over the past five weeks, when it has fallen by 2.3 percentage points, the pollsters say.
The top three are followed by non-parliamentary party Estonia 200 on 9 percent, opposition Social Democratic Party (SDE) on 8.2 percent and Isamaa, the third party in the coalition, which received 5.1 percent, just over the threshold required to get Riigikogu seats in a general election (or local and European elections seats for that matter).
The three coalition parties together picked up 43.9 percent support compared with 41.8 percent support fo the two opposition parties, even as the opposition Reform Party remains the most popular single party.
A new political season
Researcher Martin Mölder noted that the reconvening of the Riiigkogu Monday after the summer recess kicked off a new political season.
"The state budget needs to be prepared, pension reform is waiting to see its fate at the Supreme Court, and an opposition campaign has already begun against the marriage referendum scheduled for the next local elections. We will definitely see this [marriage] campaign continue, and it will have an impact on party support," Mölder said.
Mölder says that the marriage referendum, and opposition to it from Reform, will likely divide the party, or rather its voters.
The state budget is set to be finalized at cabinet-level at the end of the month and will be passed in December.
The pension reform bill, which would make membership of the so-called second pillar, referring to employer/employee contributions, optional where it had been mandatory for most wage earners since 2020, was rejected earlier in the year by the president and is following standard procedure in being heard at the Supreme Court in Tartu, where the state will be represented by justice chancellor Ülle Madise.
EKRE wants a referendum on the definition of marriage, which it says should be inserted into the constitution as constituting a union between one man and one woman in November 2021.
EKRE loses support in key demographic
"The rating of EKRE meanwhile has undergone a rather steep decline of a couple of percent since mid-August. The last time their support underwent so steep a decline was last fall, when EKRE ministers Kert Kingo and Mart Jarvik had to leave their posts. In recent weeks, the rating of EKRE has declined foremost among men and ethnic Estonian voters. At the same time, support for EKRE among women has remained stable and among Russian-speaking voters support for EKRE has been growing, with minor fluctuations but nevertheless in a stable manner, since the spring," Molder said.
Compared with the same time a month ago, the non-parliamentary party Estonia 200 has again emerged ahead of SDE. According to Molder, it's remarkable that voters at least at the moment are placing their hopes rather with a new non-parliamentary party that has not been getting significant exposure of late than with a party with a long history that sits in the parliament.
Rise of Isamaa right-wingers harming support
"Isamaa, which in the meantime demonstrated a slow growth trend, has again dropped to the region of 5 percent. Support for Isamaa has been traditionally high among people with three or more children. At the moment it is remarkable that their support has declined also in that group lately, whereas among childless voters their support has grown," Molder said.
"What is the reason behind the decline in overall support for Isamaa remains unknown to us, but it is certain that the showcasing of the opposition Right Wingers within the party has not had a positive effect on Isamaa's support. If at all, they have added to the support of childless voters for the party, at the same time when their positions in several other groups of society has weakened," he added.
The right-wingers union was formed in August by 111 Isamaa members. The group's manifsto promises to walk the line between standing up for "western" values and right-wing opinions, but against extremists in Estonian politics.
Norstat and the Institute for Social Research have aggregated the latest results over the past four weeks and polled a little over 4,000 citizens of voting age, weighted for various demographics; Norstat claims an error margin of +/1 1.55 percent.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Helen Wright