Support for opposition Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) is at the highest level, according to one market research firm, that it has been since the pollsters started conducting political party surveys, over three years ago. The party also outstrips the Reform Party among men voters, though is significantly lagging with women voters, Norstat says.
Support for the coalition Center Party has fallen below EKRE's level, the research says. Reform remain the most supported party.
Support for the two coalition parties combined – Reform and Center – is still higher, at 49.8 percent, than the three opposition parties, EKRE, Isamaa and the Social Democrats (SDE), Norstat, who conduct weekly support polls on behalf of conservative think-tank Institute for Social Research (MTÜ Ühiskonnauuringute Instituut), says.
However, the latest results – aggregated over four weeks – represent the first time support for the coalition parties have dipped below the 50 percent-mark, albeit by 0.2 percentage points.
Reform remain the most highly supported party, according to Norstat, picking up 31.2 percent, compared with 21.5 percent for EKRE, and 18.6 percent for Center.
EKRE's support rose by 1.3 percentage points since last week, Norstat says, and the party now lies 2.9 percentage points ahead of its erstwhile coalition partner Center – the widest gap so far.
The top three are followed by non-parliamentary party Eesti 200, at 13.5 percent. Eesti 200 briefly had a period as third most popular party by Norstat's reckoning, at the end of 2020.
This declined in the new year – possibly due to the socially liberal Reform Party's entry into office and away from opposition, making the similarly aligned Eesti 200's raison d'etre redundant. However, the party has rallied since then, in Norstat's ratings (see graph below).
Opposition party SDE picked up 7.4 percent, a relatively unchanged figure on recent weeks, though Isamaa – in office with Center and EKRE until mid-January – has dipped below the 5 percent-mark, according to Norstat.
This is a significant level in that 5 percent is the proportion of a vote required to bag seats in any constituency in Estonia at an election. In other words, if Norstat's latest results translated into electoral figures, Isamaa would not pick up any seats.
The party has in the past polled below the 5 percent threshold in the months leading up to an election and still picked up seats, however, most notably at the March 2019 general election.
Analyst Martin Mölder says that EKRE has seen a rise in support among practically all demographics, though was unable to explain this phenomenon other than in terms of haemorrhaging support from Center, particularly among men voters and the elderly.
"[EKRE's] support is half that among women that it stands at among men, and the party's support is also lower among those voters who have been through higher education," Mölder said.
At the same time, with this second group, its support had still been rising too, he said.
"While EKRE has also increased its support in recent weeks, it is now almost record high among voters who have higher education [qualifications]."
While Center's support fell by one percentage point between the four weeks – covering around 4,000 respondents – in the period 27 April to May 25, compared with the four-week period starting a week earlier (i.e. April 20 to May 17), EKRE's rose around the same amount over the same period and canvassing the same number of respondents. Other parties' support levels over the same period only saw marginal changes.
Support for EKRE now stands at 30 percent with male voters, making it actually the most popular among that group, compared with Reform at 26.4 percent.
Norstat claims a +/- 1.44 error margin for Reform, the largest party by support, compared with a +/- 0.67 percent margin for Isamaa, and the margin will vary in line with overall support levels for all the other party, the company says.
Norstat uses both phone and online surveying channels, and says it weights data based on key socio-demographic characteristics.
The next elections are to the local municipalities, on October 17.
Editor: Andrew Whyte