Ratings: Opposition support exceeds coalition for first time since February
Support for the opposition Reform Party has risen to over 33 percent, according to a recent poll, with support for the two opposition parties slightly exceeding that of the three coalition parties.
The survey, conducted by pollsters Norstat on behalf of ( MTÜ Ühiskonnauuringute Instituut), shows the Reform party on 33.2 percent of support, compared with 22.1 percent for the ruling coalition Center Party – whose fall in support over the past week, at 1.1 percentage points, was the largest decline for any party.
The Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE), also in the coalition, received 15.3 percent support in the poll, and is followed by the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDE) on 9.8 percent, non-parliamentary party Estonia 200 on 7.9 percent and the third coalition party, Isamaa, in sixth place with exactly 5 percent.
Overall, the two opposition parties received 43 percent support and the three coalition parties 42.4 percent. This was the first time the coalition was supported by fewer respondents than the opposition since before the coronavirus pandemic began, Norstat says.
However, analyst Martin Mölder says, the picture above does not tell the whole story, and in fact Center is in a slightly stronger position – and Reform in a slightly weaker one – than might seem at first glance.
Center's fall can be in part explained by the aggregate system Norstat uses in the latest poll, over a four week period.
This cuts out the first week in September, when Center's support was higher than usual, and since then it has stabilized to the 21-22 percent range.
"The decline of almost a percentage point is somewhat misleading, and in fact support for the Center Party seems to be stable at the moment. However, there is a sign that the support of the Reform Party is much more volatile than that of the Center Party," Mõlder said.
Mölder added that even on year, support levels have not changed much, though Estonia 200 – which narrowly missed out on Riigikogu seats at the 2018 parliamentary elections – has made the most progress, rising from 5 percent to 8 percent support during that time.
Five percent, the same level attained by Isamaa in the latest poll, is a signal figure in that it is the threshold for a party to gain seats at a Riigikogu (or local or European) election, under Estonia's d'Hondt system of proportional representation.
A party that gets less than 5 percent of the vote wins no seats at all.
Support in terms of demographics has not changed radically either, Mölder added, though SDE and Estonia 200 have strengthened their positions with Russian-speaking voters, while Center's has declined in that respect.
"Estonia 200 is a much more clearly party of highly educated people," Mölder added.
Norstat claims a margin error of +/1 1.55 percent in calculating its ratings and samples over 4,000 Estonian citizens of voting age.
The system of providing aggregate results of the preceding four weeks provides the most accurate figures ahead of elections, Norstat claims.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte