Reform remains the most supported party in Estonia according to a recent poll, though maintains only a narrow lead over the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) nationwide. Center has made progress in third place, and widened the gap over Eesti 200, in fourth place.
The survey, conducted by pollsters Turu-uuringute AS, was conducted in the context of Riigikogu elections, meaning respondents were Estonian citizens-only, the results give an idea of the party support landscape and recent changes, ahead of Sunday's local elections, ERR reports.
The franchise at the October 17 local election – whose advance voting period began on Monday – is considerably wider and includes all permanent residents of Estonia, regardless of their citizenship status. Voting age is 16 in local elections, compared with 18 for Riigikogu elections.
Another significant difference in the Turu-uuringute survey is that electoral alliances running in the local elections are not included.
These groups are peculiar to the local elections and are generally municipality-focused. At the same time, as they relate to issues facing that locale, they often win seats in a municipality, and present a credible alternative to the mainstream parties.
There are two such alliances running in Tallinn alone, and three in Narva.
Forty-three independent candidates are also running.
Reform on 24 percent
With all that in mind, Turu-uuringute found that coalition party Reform was still most-supported, at 24 percent, though is only narrowly ahead of the opposition Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE), at 23 percent.
In third place with 19 percent of support is the Center Party, Reform's coalition partner and the party with the current absolute majority at Tallinn city government chambers, going into the election. Center's support has picked up a little since last month, by Turu-uuringute's reckoning, when it was backed by 17 percent of respondents.
Eesti 200, contesting its third election at the moment, lies in fourth place on 13 percent, four percentage points down on September, while the opposition Isamaa and Social Democratic (SDE) parties polled at seven percent each, which for Isamaa represents a fall of one percentage point on last month, whereas for SDE there has been no change (see graph below; Keskerakond is the Center Party, Rohelised are the Greens).
The proportion of respondents who picked "cant' say" as an option is down from 34 percent in September to 27 percent this month.
See the graph below for changes in support levels, August-October.
The remaining registered political parties, the Estonian Greens and TULE, polled at below the 5 percent threshold; the Greens on 3 percent, TULE on one percent. Three percent said they would vote for an independent candidate.
A minimum of 5 percent of the vote is needed to clinch seats in a given constituency, which for the local elections number 79, so falling below the threshold in a poll need not mean either party will not get local municipality seats.
In Riigikogu elections, Estonia is divided up into 12 electoral districts, while the whole country is treated as one constituency in European elections. The recent presidential election which saw Alar Karis become head of state is not a direct election, and only involved the 101 Riigikogu MPs.
Turu-uuringute results breakdown
In Tallinn, Center has reestablished itself in the lead on 30 percent, over Reform on 21 percent. Last month, the two parties had been neck-and-neck, according to Turu-uuringute.
Center has repeated that feat in its other main traditional heartland, Ida-Viru County, where support is running at 31 percent. EKRE is its main competition there now, with 23 percent of support.
Reform is strongest in northern Estonia (31 percent), EKRE strongest in western and central Estonia (32 percent and 27 percent respectively)
The support of the Reform Party is the highest in Northern Estonia (31 per cent), while in Western and Central Estonia the support of EKRE is the highest (32 and 27 per cent, respectively).
Reform (29 percent) is slightly ahead of EKRE (27 percent) in South Estonia. Tartu city is a traditional Reform stronghold.
By ethnicity, Reform remains most popular among native speakers of Estonian on 27 percent, followed by EKRE on 24 percent, and Eesti 200 and Center on 13 percent each. Isamaa picked up 9 percent, SDE 7 percent, while the Greens and TULE saw the saw support levels as they did nationwide as a whole.
Among voters of other nationalities, which means in practice primarily native Russian speakers, since the survey only polled Estonian citizens, Center were by far strongest and picked up 51 percent. EKRE polled at 14 percent, Eesti 200 at 10 percent, while Reform and SDE saw six percent support each.
Editor: Andrew Whyte