Social Democrats looking to fix low ratings

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Social Democrats in Riigkogu. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

On Wednesday, polling by Norstat showed the level of support for the Social Democratic Party is at a two-year low of 6.2 percent. But what can be done to increase their ratings with the public? ERR's Estonian portal interviewed senior party members to see what the next steps will be.

The Vice-Chairman of the Social Democrats Riina Sikkut believes the change of coalition party members is the reason for the party's low ratings.

"The fact that the government was replaced and the populists are out of the coalition, is definitely a good thing for a lot of people and it can be seen in the ratings. On one side, it causes the increase in the Reform Party's ratings, but then also the ratings decrease for parties that are not in the coalition, for example, the Social Democrats," Sikkut said.

Sikkut said the healthcare crisis also plays a part in the decline in support: "In the healthcare crisis situation, it is understandable that the crisis leader has to be able to operate and other subjects are a little less important."

"It is definitely worrying that the ratings are as low. But only we are responsible for it. That we have a mission, a clear vision that we can present convincingly. Otherwise, the rating won't increase," Sikkut said, discussing what the party needs to do to increase its support level.

Why should people vote for the Social Democrats?

Sikkut said the issues with inequality and injustice will not disappear from society anytime soon. She added the party plays an important role in defending liberal democracy and the rule of law.

In spring, the SDE will elect their board. Sikkut said changing the chairman will not increase their ratings by a lot. "As we could see last time when the chairman was changed. It does not have a great impact. More changes are needed," Sikkut said.

Sikkut considered defining the important topics for the party as more valuable.

Chairman of the party Indrek Saar refused to comment on the low ratings saying that the secretary-general of the party, the party's Secretary-General Rannar Vassiljev, told ERR.

He also blamed the formation of the new government. "The change of government focuses on those who form the government and those who fall out of the government. This change of power was no exception either. It is where the main reasons for the changes in the ratings in recent weeks should be looked from," Vassiljev commented.

However, Vassiljev considers the solution of the biggest problems in today's Estonia to be the strength of the Social Democrats

"The current situation in Estonia needs to focus mainly on two issues - how to overcome the health crisis and ensure that inequality does not increase as a result, so that the weakest do not suffer the most. Neither of these are the strengths of the Reform Party, but they are for the Social Democratic Party," Vassiljev said.

In Vassiljev's opinion, this is not only the task of the chairman of the party but of all social democrats who deal with politics on a daily basis. "That's what we're based on, and that's the key to an increase in the ratings."

Läänemets: The Social Democrats don't have to be the most liberal Party

Vice-Chairman of the Party Lauri Läänemets was more critical. He wants the party to find a clear direction and stop opposing EKRE.

"The main aim of the Social Democrats is not to be the most liberal party in Estonia, we have the be the most social democratic party. Secondly, Estonia's problem is not EKRE, but the issues of why EKRE was elected in the first place. The key to the solution is in the hands of the Social Democrats," Läänemets said.

Läänemets highlighted that the solution to problems is not more freedom but more justice and less inequality. "We are the only left-wing party and it should be seen in our actions more," he said.

Läänemets said he is ready to run for chairman again. "I think the party is in a critical situation and every Social Democrat must be prepared to rescue the party - even when a new and energetic leader is needed. At this point, there must be no excitement or hiding. If members of the regions trust my vision, I say yes," Läänemets said.

In June 2019, both Riina Sikkut and Lauri Läänemets ran against Indrek Saar as party chairman.

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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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