Ratings: Isamaa rise back above electoral threshold only significant change

Toompea Castle, seat of the Riigikogu in Tallinn.
Toompea Castle, seat of the Riigikogu in Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The Reform Party continues its lead as most-supported, according to a recent survey. Coalition party Isamaa has exceeded the threshold needed for Riigikogu seats, having dipped slightly below it in recent polls.

Support for the three coalition parties – Center, the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and Isamaa – together stood at 44.1 percent, compared with 41.8 percent for the two opposition parties, Reform and the Social Democratic Party (SDE), the survey, conducted by pollsters Norstat on behalf of the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues (MTÜ Ühiskonnauuringute Instituut), found.

Reform picked up 32.8 percent of support, Center 22.2 percent and EKRE 16.2 percent.

This represented no significant change for the largest three parties, which have 34, 25 and 19 seats at the Riigikogu respectively, compared with last week.

SDE polled at 9 percent, the non-parliamentary Estonia 200 at 8.6 percent, and Isamaa 5.7 percent.

This represented an improvement on the previous week's Norstat survey for Isamaa, who had received 4.9 percent support, below the threshold required for Riigikogu seats under Estonia's d'Hondt system of proportional representation.

In other words if the results translated to an election, the party, which currently has 12 seats at the Riigikogu, would win seats. The same system is employed in local and European elections

The gap between SDE and Estonia 200 has narrowed to a 0.4-percentage point difference, compared with 2.2 percent the previous week, the result of a roughly equal fall in support for SDE and rise for Estonia 200.

The recent coalition rift does not seem to have affected support levels one way or another, and neither does Reform's planned vote of no-confidence in interior minister Mart Helme, which will now take place in November after two of its MPs could not vote this week, since they are having to quarantine after potential exposure to a coronavirus carrier at a local government meeting.

The Supreme Court's ruling in favor of the Isamaa-sponsored pensions reform bill may be behind their improvement on recent weeks.

University of Tartu expert Martin Mölder says that the results represented such a small shift in support for the big three parties that this did not even go beyond its error margins (see below) though the smaller parties had seen more significant changes.

"We can see that Center and EKRE's positions have weakened slightly, which we can particularly observe from single-week results (Norstat also aggregates its results over four-week periods – ed.). EKRE's trend for a rise in support has halted, and Center has not improved its position," he said.

"In the case of Reform, no anticipated fall in support has occurred. At the same time, Isamaa's support compared with previous weeks has clearly risen and at present we can see that they are clearly above the electoral threshold again. Taking into consideration the overall level of support for Isamaa, we can see that their rise is the most signifcant change in support levels this week," he added.

The changes generally are short-term adjustments and not major developments have occurred.

"The political support landscape has been pretty stable since the beginning of summer, with the largest change compared with spring relating to Center and Reform. At that time, Center's support had risen to in excess of 26 percent and Reform's had dipped below 30 percent. Initially it seemed possible that the gap between the big two was evaporating after that, but the trend for divergence returned and has remained the case."

Mölder added there have not been major fluctuations in support levels since the March 2019 general election, with the main exceptions being EKRE's dip below 15 percent around a year ago, Estonia 200's spurt to 10 percent early on this year, when the party outstripped SDE in support, and the more recent fall below the electoral threshold for Isamaa.

"Reform's support ranges from 30 to 35 percent, Center's between 20 and 25 percent, EKRE's from 15 to 20 percent and SDE, Isamaa and Estonia 20 are in the 5-10 percent range.

Norstat claims a +/- 1.55 percent margin of error and polls at least 4,000 citizens of voting age in its surveys carried out for the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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