Ratings: Reform remains well ahead of Center even after slight support fall

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SDE, Center and Reform MPs in the Riigikogu's main chamber. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Opposition Reform Party remains most popular among voters according to a recent poll, outstripping the coalition Center Party by around 10 percentage points.

The poll, conducted by market researchers Norstat for NGO the Institute for Social Research (MTÜ Ühiskonnauuringute Instituut) finds the three coalition parties, the Center Party, the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and Isamaa, are supported by 42.4 percent of respondents, compared with 39.8 percent support going to the two opposition parties, Reform and the Social Democratic Party (SDE).

Reform remains nevertheless the most-supported party according to Norstat, picking up 31.3 percent support compared with 21.4 percent for the largest coalition party, Center.

Reform support falling but still by far most popular

Reform's support however continued a recent trend for a fall, according to Norstat, by 1.1 percentage points on the previous week's results.

Reform has 34 Riigikogu seats at the 101-seat chamber, Center has 25.

EKRE is again in third place with 15.4 percent support. The party first entered office in late April 2019 and has 19 seats.

Center and EKRE's support levels remain largely unchanged, Norstat says.

The big three are followed by a continually resurgent Estonia 200, which got 12.5 percent support in the latest Norstat poll, up from 11 percent the previous week. Estonia 200 has no seats at the Riigikogu, having narrowly missed out on winning any at the March 2019 election, but has consistently polled ahead of SDE (8.5 percent this week, 10 seats) and Isamaa (5.6 percent and 12 seats) for several weeks now – by 5 percentage points over six weeks, Norstat says.

Analyst: Voter participation rising

Analyst Martin Mölder says that the continued recent trend for greater voter participation is continuing, with 80 percent of respondents giving a preference.

Mölder said: "We have been seeing this trend in particular since spring of this year," adding that the planned marriage referendum has taken over from the coronavirus crisis as hot topic.

A referendum on the definition of marriage, sponsored by EKRE, is planned for late April.

The issue has, however, not divided society in quite the way many have claimed, Mölder added, and has more constituted a problem for individual parties when forming a stance on it.

Isamaa in particular has seen division in the ranks, most recently when one of its MPs, Siim Kiisler, voted the referendum off the Riigikogu's agenda in his role on the parliament's constitutional committee.

The fall in uncommitted voters is also important, Mölder added, and goes against an overall trend in recent years across Europe for falling voter turnout, particularly in Central and Eastern European countries.

In its research, Norstat polls over 4,000 people and aggregates over a four-week period, claiming a +/- 1.55 percent error margin in so doing.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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