Support for the opposition Reform Party has dropped below 30 percent, marking the lowest level for the party after the 2019 general elections, it appears from the results of a survey commissioned by the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues and carried out by pollster Norstat Eesti AS.
The latest results show that the Reform Party is supported by 29.2 percent, the senior partner in the government coalition Center Party by 21.6 percent and the non-parliamentary Estonia 200 by 15.8 percent of voting-age citizens.
The latest aggregate results reflect the outcomes of polls taken between November 17 and December 14, in which altogether 4,000 voting-age citizens of Estonia were interviewed.
Support for Reform declined by 1.9 percentage points week on week, dropping to its lowest level after the Riigikogu elections in March 2019. Estonia 200 meanwhile continued its rise, climbing a further 1.1 percentage points on week.
The top three are followed by the junior coalition partner Estonian Conservative People's Party (EKRE) with 13.6 percent, opposition Social Democratic Party (SDE) with 8.2 percent and junior coalition partner Isamaa with 5.9 percent.
The three parties of the ruling coalition - Center, EKRE and Isamaa - are supported by altogether 41.1 percent of voters and those of the opposition by 37.4 percent. The aggregate support for the opposition has hit its lowest level during the current composition of the Riigikogu.
Researcher Martin Mölder said that growth in support for Estonia 200 also grew over the past week in parallel with a decrease in respondents without a party preference.
"Broadly speaking, Estonia 200 has doubled its support over the past two months, roughly by eight percentage points. While this is a significant shift in support, it is on the whole not unprecedented. Looking at Norstat ratings over the past two years, we can see other shifts with similar speed and magnitude. A year ago, Estonia 200 also doubled its support; also, at the end of summer 2019 and in February and March this year, support for the Center Party grew as rapidly by approximately 7 percentage points, and at the start of summer 2019, the Reform Party likewise saw support for it grow by as much and as quickly," Mölder said.
While the extent of growth in support for Estonia 200 has varied, it has nonetheless been noticeable in all socio-demographic groups, occurring in parallel with a decline in the share of respondents without party preference. In absolute numbers, support to other parties has remained relatively unchanged or has not exhibited any growth indicating that they have won over any voting age citizens without party preference.
"Thus, it can be assumed that the growth in support for Estonia 200 has first and foremost been due to the electorate which previously did not have any party preference having become more active," Mölder said.
Support for Estonia 200 has grown in particular among respondents with higher education and those earning over €2,000 per month, which indicates that the party is entering the territory of the Reform Party, according to Mölder. The latter will likely soon have real concerns regarding its ratings, he said.
"In some sense, the Reform Party remains in good shape -- in absolute numbers, their supporters have remained stable over the past weeks and have even exhibited slow growth since its lowest point in spring. However, as the share of voters without party preference has declined and Estonia 200 has seen its position improve at the expense of this segment, the relative position of all other parties, the Reform Party included, has deteriorated. Thus, the lowest relative support for the Reform Party since the elections is now also reflected in the latest ratings," Mölder said.
"Probably the most noteworthy aspect in the present situation - aside the growth in support for Estonia 200 and the sharp parallel decline in the share of voters without party preference - is that nothing has significantly changed in ratings over the past few months. In absolute numbers, support for all other parties has been stable, and the decline in support for not just the Reform Party but also in that for the Center Party and in part for EKRE has been due to changes in the share of respondents supporting Estonia 200 and in those without party preference," Mölder added.
Editor: Helen Wright