Center Party MEP: Party's ratings fell due to coalition with Reform

The recent support ratings of the Center Party decreased due to forming a coalition with the Reform Party, which for many Russian-speaking voters, is still associated with the Bronze Night riots, the party's MEP and board member Yana Toom says.

"The Reform Party is a synonym for the Bronze Night for lots of Russians, whoever is leading the party," Toom told ERR.

The riots took place in April 2007 in Tallinn and followed the relocation of a Soviet-era monument to World War Two dead and was, as its name suggests, the likeness of a soldier cast in bronze.

Nonetheless, Yana Toom says she doesn't agree with the Mayor of Tallinn, Mihhail Kõlvart's (Center) opinion that the party should have stayed in opposition. "I understand Mihhail's logic, but if he had worked in the opposition for a couple of weeks, he wouldn't have said that," Toom said.

"I was there for three years. Running up against the wall is fatal. It is a dead end for every party," Toom added.

Toom said that for Russian-speaking voters, political messages about Russian schools not being closed down or switched to Estonian-language only - the latter a Reform policy ideal, for example, are not enough.

The green geal, exiting oil shale in the energy sector and the loss of jobs resulting from that all serve to affect the voters' support negatively, Toom said, a viewpoint echoed by panellists on ERR's politics discussion show "Otse uudistemajast" Thursday.

Interviewer Indrek Kiisler asked her whether both Yana Toom's and Mihhail Kõlvart's world view might be a bit too liberal for the average Russian-speaking voter, adding that support for the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) is growing among the Russian-speaking voters, in part because of the party's stance on the definition of marriage.

"That is true. In my case, definitely," Toom said. However, Toom considers Mihhail Kõlvart a conservative overall.

"This a sticking point for me and politics. There are understandings which I don't share and there are values where I won't surrender. I still believe that discriminating against any minorities is evil," Toom said.

Recent polls show that the support for the Center Party among non-Estonian voters stands at 43 percent, which is the lowest level for the party ever. At thge best of times, the support had run at almost twice that at over 80 percent.

In second place in the polls with non-Estonian voters is Eesti 200.

The support for the Reform Party, Social Democrats (SDE) and especially EKRE, rose.

Support for the Center Party fell nationally, and in all voter groups, to 20 percent.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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