Party ratings: Support levels stabilize, with Reform still in first place

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Recent Riigikogu sitting which elected the chamber's three-person board. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Support for the three largest political parties in Estonia have now stabilized after a period of change following the collapse of the last administration in January, pollsters Norstat report.

Recent research Norstat conducted on behalf of conservative think-tank the Institute for Social Research (MTÜ Ühiskonnauuringute instituut) found that the coalition Reform Party garnered 34.3 percent of support from respondents. Reform's coalition partner, Center, picked up 19.5 percent, while the opposition Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) was slightly ahead on 19.6 percent.

Reform's support had been rising since it entered office in January with Center, while the latter's support had been moving in the opposite direction. EKRE's has picked up in recent weeks.

However, Norstat conducts its research on a weekly basis, and the past week has only seen negligible changes in ratings, no more than 0.3 percentage points.

The top three above were followed by non-parliamentary party Eesti 200, which had been experiencing several weeks' decline in support after a peak at year end 2020 saw it surpass EKRE – in office at the time – on 11.1 percent.

The opposition Social Democratic Party (SDE) polled 6.1 percent, while Isamaa, now in opposition but previously in office with Center and EKRE, got 5.6 percent in the latest Norstat poll. Isamaa's support has long been hovering around the 5 percent-mark, significant in that if translated into votes at any of the three levels of direct elections in Estonia, it would just surpass the threshold needed to get seats under Estonia's modified d'Hondt system of proportional representation.

A total of 53.8 percent of respondents supported the two coalition parties, while 31.3 percent pledged their support for the four opposition parties

Researcher Martin Mölder said that the honeymoon period for Kaja Kallas (Reform), as Estonia's first ever female premier and who formed up a government in late January after Jüri Ratas (Center) had resigned in the wake of a real estate corruption scandal which involved his party, has drawn to a close, as evidenced by a recent poll which put Ratas as a more popular prime ministerial candidate than the current incumbent.

At the same time, Reform as a whole remains as popular as, if not more popular than, ever, Mölder said.

"If the electorate is disappointed in Kaja Kallas as the Prime Minister, it will certainly have an impact on the party's general support, which is currently still very high, considering the Reform Party's, very stable support of less than 30 percent during the election periods," Mölder said.

Looking at other parties, EKRE, whose support is more male than female, has been streaking away from one of its main opponents, SDE (which tends to pick up support from women voters), a phenomenon heightened by another socially liberal party, Eesti 200 (which also has a woman leader in Kristina Kallas – no relation to Kaja – ed.) also seeing a fall in support, particularly among middle-aged voters. Eesti 200 has now reverted to the level it had been before its sudden and dramatic increase at the tail end of 2020 (see graph above), Mölder noted.

"The rise and fall of the Estonian 200 has been particularly dramatic among those over the age of 50. In this constituency group, the support of the Estonian 200 has already fallen to the same level it was before their extraordinary increase in the last months of last year," added Mölder.

Norstat says it focuses on combined results over a four-week period in polling over 4,000 people, with the maximum margin of error depending on the proportion of the most-supported party, in this case Reform, giving a margin of error of +/- 0.71 percent.

Norstat interviewed respondents between March 17 and 22 in updating its latest poll.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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