Board member of the Estonia 200 party and former defense minister Margus Tsahkna says that his party's recent growth in popularity is down to complex issues affecting the five Riigikogu parties.
Speaking to Thursday's edition of ETV current affairs show "Ringvaade", Tsahkna said that the rise was not unexpected, given the situation.
Tsahkna said: "For a month and a half now, it has been noticeable that various polls show a significant increase in Estonia 200. This is because of what is happening in Estonian politics; it is very logical why Estonia 200 is getting more and more support – because we are the only positive alternative and let's be honest, Riigikogu parties has somehow got mired in fights with each other, which is also reflected in people' s preferences."
As reported on ERR News, Estonia 200 saw the largest rise in support of any party in the period September to November, at a time when support for Reform and Center, while still the two largest parties, has been declining.
Estonia 200 does not have any Riigikogu seats, but has consistently been polling better than two more parties that do, Isamaa, which is in the coalition, and the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDE).
One survey by Kantar Emor recently even put Estonia 200 at second-most popular in the land, behind only Reform.
The squabbles Tsakhna was referring to would include both cross-the-floor controversy over a planned marriage referendum, or the recent resignation of former interior minister Mart Helme (EKRE), as well as in-house fights inside the tripartite coalition of Center, EKRE and Isamaa, often on the very same issues.
Tsahkna, who was defense minister 2016-2017 with the IRL party (now Isamaa), says that Estonia 200's route may describe one similar to that of Res Publica – one half of what became IRL/Isama – which also filled an earlier political void.
Tsahkna said: "There is the question of the existence of an alternative, and we have formulated a great narrative that the problem in Estonian politics today is a bit similar to that which existed when Res Publica came along, I.e. the battle between the parties in the Riigikogu just ran and ran, no solution was on the horizon, and Res Publica came along and won the election (in 2003 – ed.) And in all likelihood, Estonia 200's success could happen in exactly the same way."
Between now and next fall's local elections, Tsahkna said that Estonia 200, which is led by Kristina Kallas, would come up with a strong list of names, particularly in Tallinn and Tartu and larger population settlements, adding that close to 80 people had applied in the past three-and-a-half weeks.
Editor: Andrew Whyte