Party ratings: EKRE widens support gap over Reform

Polling station in Estonia.
Polling station in Estonia. Source: Sergei Stepanov

Support for the opposition Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) has risen to an all-time high, according to one market research company, and the party has cemented its position as most-supported in the latest weekly poll, ahead of the coalition Reform Party by a little over one percentage point. Elections to the local municipalities take place on October 17

The latest weekly survey conducted by pollsters Norstat on behalf of the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues (MTÜ Ühiskonnauuringute Instituut)  found that the two coalition partners, Reform and Center, together polled at 43.3 percent – is lowest since the pairing entered office in January – while the three opposition parties, Isamaa, the Social Democratic Party (SDE) and the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) together picked up 41 percent of support.

EKRE maintained its position as most-supported party, according to Norstat, one which it first reached when it overtook Reform last week. EKRE picked up 25.2 percent of support, meaning it widened the gap on Reform to 1.4 percentage points. Reform 23.8 percent. Center polled at 19.5 percent.

EKRE's support has increased by 3.3 percentage points over the last four weeks and is now at its highest level since the beginning of 2019, when Norstat started with its party preference surveys. The Reform Party has lost 7.2 percentage points of its support during the seven-week downward trend, and the support of the Prime Minister's Party is at its lowest level since the beginning of 2019.

These three are followed by Eesti 200, which polled at 12.2 percent, SDE (9.1 percent) and Isamaa (6.7 percent). SDE's support is the highest it has seen since October 2020, Norstat says.

The Green Party remains fairly stable at 2.1 percent of support, while "other" parties picked up 1.4 percent.

Commenting on the results, political scientist Martin Mölder said that: "Support for Reform has fallen in recent weeks in almost all demographics. Support has been lost among both men and women, though in gender terms we can still see the 'Kallas effect'," referring to a phenomenon where women are reportedly more likely to support the current prime minister than men. This effect has persisted so far, he added.

"The support of the Reform Party has fallen among voters with all levels of education, and among voters over 75 years of age, there has been no downward trend in support over the last six months," he continued, adding that its decline among men voters goes back to March this year, while it is also seeing a fall in support among native Estonian-speaking voters, as opposed to those of other ethnicities.

"From the various income groups, by comparison, it is worth remembering that at the peak of its support, the support for the Reform in this group of voters ranged between 50 and 60 percent," Mölder added.

"Politics enthusiasts are currently keeping an eye on the local elections, and no more precise conclusions can be drawn on them, based on the ratings of the national Riigikogu elections," Mölder continued.
"Which way the winds are blowing in Estonian politics, and the local level of power will not remain untouched by this," added Mölder, meaning that the national political picture which the Norstat ratings attempt to convey.

Mölder noted that the gap between EKRE and Reform is no longer a notional one – when the margin of error was applied to last week's ratings, the two parties were neck-and-neck in effect – and the near-one-and-a-half-percentage-point difference is likely to grow further next week, he said.

The local elections polling day is October 17, preceded by a six-day advance voting period.

More detailed information on party ratings (in Estonian) as compiled by Norstat is here.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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