Party Ratings: Reform reaching ceiling, EKRE may have overtaken Center

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Leaders of the four largest political parties in Estonia. From left, Martin Helme (EKRE), Kaja Kallas (Reform), Jüri Ratas (Center), Kristina Kallas (Eesti 200). Source: Priit Mürk/ERR, collage by JJ Oidermaa

Support for the coalition Reform party has leveled off after growing for several weeks, while the opposition Conservative People's Party (EKRE) has actually overtaken the other coalition party, Center, a recent opinion poll found.

The two coalition parties, Reform and Center, picked up 53.9 percent support in the latest survey, conducted by pollsters Norstat on behalf of the NGO the Institute for Social Research (MTÜ Ühiskonnauuringute Instituut), while the three opposition parties – The Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE), the Social Democratic Party (SDE) and Isamaa – between them polled 31 percent's-worth of support.

The breakdown by party saw 34.9 percent of respondents pledging their support for Reform, whose leader is current prime minister, Kaja Kallas, while Reform's coalition partner, Center, and EKRE were neck-and-neck on 19 to 19.5 percent support.

Center's support was unchanged on the previous week, while EKRE's has been rising lately, Norstat says.

The support of the Center Party did not change during the week.

Analyst: Reform ascending to office takes wind out of Eesti 200 sails

The top three are followed by non-parliamentary party Eesti 200 (12.1 percent), SDE (6.2 percent) and Isamaa (5.3 percent).

While Eesti 200 had seen a surge in support late in 2020 and at the beginning of 2021, it has since started to decline. The party has seen 4.4 percentage points' support evaporate in the past eight weeks, Norstat says.

Norstat's Martin Mölder puts much of this decline down to the entry of Reform into office and the exit of two right-wing/national conservative parties – EKRE and Isamaa – from government, meaning Eesti 200's raison d'etre as a socially liberal part was less clear.

Mölder said: "In non-parliamentary opposition, it was certainly easier for the Estonian 200 to win and maintain support than in the current situation, where it is more difficult for them to explain to the voters why they should be in the Riigikogu instead of the ruling government, or at all."

While Center was in office with EKRE and Isamaa in the last administration, it has its socially liberal wing, as does Isamaa.

The latter is still hovering round the 5 percent mark, a signal figure given that this is the threshold number of votes required to win Riigikogu (or local government, or European Parliament) seats.

SDE support is running at its lowest level since 2019, Norstat says.

As to Reform, its support has been on the up for seven consecutive weeks, rising by 6.5 percentage points. EKRE's rose by 1.1 percentage points over the past week, putting it into second place, a shade ahead of Center, and also at the highest level since Norstat started publishing its ratings in the current format, in early 2019, shortly before EKRE entered office after the March 2019 general election.

Martin Mölder said that Reform's support growth rate was slowing, and the party might have reached its natural ceiling for the time being, while EKRE's overtaking of Center is more noteworthy, though more time is required to ascertain if the change in places is confirmed.

The next direct elections are in the fall, to local municipalities.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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