The Reform Party has seen a slight fall in support in the past week, according to a recent poll, with one analyst saying that the party is alone among the big players in not influencing the political worldview scene at a time when issues surrounding a proposed marriage referendum, the LGBT+ community, and a Supreme Court ruling on a pension reform bill, have dominated the headlines.
The latest results, from a survey conducted by pollsters Norstat on behalf of the Institute for Social Research (MTÜ Ühiskonnauuringute Instituut), an NGO, put opposition Reform Party on 31.9 percent, a fall of 1.1 percentage points on the previous week, with senior coalition partner Center second with 22.8 percent of support, and the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) – also in the coalition – in third place on 17.1 percent.
Reform's was the only support level to fall, among the five Riigikogu parties (see graph).
The remaining major parties have seen little change, less than one percentage point, over the same period.
The opposition Social Democrats (SDE) polled 9.9 percent, non-parliamentary party Estonia 200 picked up 7.7 percent, and Isamaa, the third coalition party, slightly below the electoral threshold at 4.9 percent.
Under Estonia's d'Hondt system of proportional representation, parties require a minimum 5 percent of the vote to get Riigikogu (or local or European) seats, meaning Isamaa's support by Norstat's reckoning would leave them without seats if an election were held today.
Reform have 34 Riigikogu seats, Center 25, EKRE 19, Isamaa 12 and SDE 10 at the 101-seat chamber. The remaining seat belongs to independent Raimond Kaljulaid, who sits with the SDE bloc for voting purposes.
Overall, the three coalition parties saw 44.8 percent support among respondents, compared with 41.8 percent for the two opposition parties.
Analysis: SDE, EKRE, Center holding cards on LGBT+, Isamaa on pension reform
Analyst Martin Mölder says there is reason to expect Center's support to continue to rise, when Norstat comes to compile its four-week aggregate results soon.
For EKRE there was no real change, he said.
"EKRE's results in the past week are practically the same as was the case three weeks back."
"That means there's no reason to expect their support to continue see any fast growth as had been the case a few weeks ago," Mölder went on.
As for Reform, Mölder saw signs of a possible forthcoming decline, reversing a trend for a rise.
"At the same time it's noteworthy that Reform's support cane generally see a small fall. Their support in recent weeks has been below the 30-percent mark, which is about five percentage points lower than we had seen over the course of a single week, a couple of weeks ago," he went on.
"This can mean that Reform's position is weakening," Mölder said.
Mölder also said that SDE – at one point lagging behind Estonia 200 – has seen its support rise in leaps and bounds, particularly among the demographic who had received higher education, a group which it practically matches Center in terms of popularity, he said, and at a level it had not been since late summer and early autumn last year.
Of concrete reasons for this, Mölder pointed towards public discussion surrounding EKRE's proposed referendum on defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman, a move which SDE opposes, as evidenced by leading members taking part in recent demonstrations, particularly after remarks made by interior minister Mart Helme (EKRE) late last week, in which he suggested LGBT+ people depart Estonia for Sweden, where they might find a more conducive environment, he said.
The issue has also divided the two main coalition parties, Center and EKRE.
Isamaa, too, has a chance to pick up more support and exceed the threshold after a Supreme Court decision on the pension reform bill – sponsored by the party ahead of the coalition becoming a reality – went in its favor.
"Of the parliamentary parties, only Reform seems to not be influencing the political landscape with its key values," Mölder added.
Norstat polls around 4,000 citizens of voting age in its surveys on behalf of the Institute for Social Research, and weights these to various demographic groups, the company says, focusing on a four-week period when making its comparisons. It claims an error margin of +/- 1.55 percent.
The next elections are in October 2021, to the local municipalities. Presidential elections also take place in fall 2021 but are not a direct poll involving the electorate, instead employing a system of voting at the Riigikogu and in regional electoral colleges.
Editor: Andrew Whyte