A continued fall in support for the coalition Reform Party has slowed over summer, while the opposition Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) has consolidated its position as second-most-widely-supported party, according to a recent survey.
Reform picked up 29 percent support, compared with 23.2 percent for EKRE and 18.4 percent for Reform's coalition partner Center, the research, conducted by pollsters Norstat on behalf of conservative think-tank the Institute for Social Research (MTÜ Ühiskonnauuringute Instituut) found.
A total of 47.4 percent of respondents pledged their support for the two coalition parties, compared with 36.6 percent for the three opposition parties, EKRE, the Social Democratic Party (SDE) and Isamaa, Norstat says.
While this October sees the local elections, Reform's support, in decline earlier in the year, has stabilized over summer, Norstat says. EKRE continues in second place and is even seeing its support continue to rise, Norstat says; it is now at its highest level since Norstat started its polls in their current format, at the beginning of 2019 and shortly before the Riigikogu election.
Center's support continues to fall, having lost 1.6 percentage points over the past fortnight, and the gap between it and EKRE now stands at 4.8 percent, firmly cementing Center's position as third-most-popular party in Estonia, Norstat says.
The top three are followed by the non-parliamentary Eesti 200 (12.6 percent), contesting its third ever election in October, the opposition SDE (7.6 percent) and Isamaa (5.8 percent), which is also in opposition.
University of Tartu analyst Martin Mölder said of the results that: "If we take a look at at longer-term trends, the Center Party's support has actually been declining since the spring of last year."
"However, EKRE 's support has been on a rapid upward trajectory since the beginning of this year. In the past, little more than six months, EKRE has added almost 10 percent to its support levels," he went on.
While both EKRE's rise and Center's decline have been broad-based, he added, there are differences between different demographics, he added, including between men and women voters. This might lead to a further reversal of fortunes for the two parties, he said.
"If such trends continue, we may soon see a situation where the Center Party is transforming into a niche party with limited support, while EKRE becomes a broad-based party, albeit not among all social groups," he went on.
Center has traditionally drawn a lot of its support from voters in Ida-Viru County, but even there the party is not as popular as it once was, partly due to the staple oil shale industry there being under threat as Estonia pursues EU climate goals. At the same time, this draining away of support for Center has in recent elections tended to translate to lower voter turnout rather than a large-scale switch to other parties.
The local elections' polling day takes place on October 17.
Editor: Andrew Whyte