Political scientist: Center Party should be worried

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Tõnis Saarts. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The Center Party, which has seen a slump in support among Russian speaking voters in recent weeks, should be worried about the local government elections in the autumn, Tallinn Universities's political scientist Tõnis Saarts said. Additionally, with the change of government, a new confrontation between EKRE and the Reform Party has appeared.

"The Center Party definitely has to be worried in its main target areas Tallinn and Ida-Viru County. Today, a big victory is not so certain. So I doubt these local government elections will be successful for the party," Saarts said.

He said the Center Party's biggest worry is not that Russian voters will not support the party in such high numbers, but that Russian voters will not be motivated to vote at all. "Because the Center Party will have been in power for five years by then and it could be asked what has it done for Russian voters - what are these notable policies? The answer is very little or even nothing," Saarts admitted.

Saarts said that for the Center Party to join a coalition with the Reform Party, there is a risk that the coalition agreement will contain very few important aspects for its voters, especially Russian voters. "If we look at the coalition agreement, there is still very little for the Center Party's core voter, especially the Russian voter. This may also be one of the reasons why the Center Party's support has fallen and the party's position in the ratings is not the best," Saarts said.

Commenting on the results of a survey commissioned by the ERR published on Friday (February 19), Saarts noted that it should be taken into account that there is a lack of non-citizens and Russian citizens who can also vote in local elections. "In general, the Center Party has been relatively popular among them. But it is possible that this popularity has fallen," he said.

Saarts also agreed with the idea that a new confrontation has appeared in the Estonian political landscape with the new coalition formed by the Reform Party, the prime minister's Party, at one end and EKRE at the other, and all other parties marginalized.

"If we look at the support ratings, now the winners of the change of government and through it the poles in Estonian politics are very clear. On the one hand, there is the Reform Party, on the other side there is EKRE and those for whom such a liberal coalition is suitable," Saarts said. In his opinion, voters with a more liberal view tend to tilt towards the Reform Party and critics towards EKRE. "And the other parties are left out or in a marginal position. They have a certain support base, but they are not the core makers of Estonian politics. And I believe that this is where these parties have a thinking point," Saarts said.

According to the February Turu-uuringute AS poll, the Reform Party has the most support with 28 percent, EKRE has risen to second with 20 percent, and the Center Party has fallen into third place with 17 percent. Estonia 200 follows with 16 percent, the Social Democratic Party with 7 percent and the Isamaa with 6 percent.

Local government council elections will be held on October 17 this year.

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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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