Kaja Kallas (Reform) is polling at her lowest prime ministerial approval rating since one survey began, daily Eesti Paäevalejt (EPL) reports, while Eesti 200 leader Kristina Kallas has overtaken Martin Helme (EKRE) in popularity as a potential head of government, and Jüri Ratas (Center) remained most popular choice for the role.
The survey, conducted for EPL (link in Estonian) by pollsters Turu-uuringute AS and which asks respondents which party leader – including the current incumbent – they would most prefer as prime minister, found 16 percent of respondents picked Kaja Kallas, 3 percentage points lower than in September and October.
The current rating for Kallas is her lowest since the monthly survey began in early 2018, while her previous-lowest figure, 17 percent, was last reached before the 2019 Riigikogu election – in other words she currently rates lower as prime minister than she did at any time in opposition, where the support was only for her as notional head of government.
Kallas polled at 26 percent in February's Turu-uuringute survey, shortly after becoming prime minister the month before, but this figure dropped to 20 percent by June, and 18-19 percent July-September.
Kallas and Reform had polled higher when in opposition, to the Center/EKRE/Isamaa coalition, which was in office when the coronavirus arrived, but after entering office has encountered criticism over its own handling of the pandemic, in addition to the normal challenges of being in government versus in opposition.
The latest poll, conducted November 3-9, also predates recent withering criticism issued by former Reform Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, and a subsequent push-back from other leading Reform members, so the effects of this controversy on Kallas' rating with the public have not made themselves known yet.
Although 75 percent of Reform voters still back Kallas as first choice for head of government – the Turu-uuringute poll also breaks down respondents by party supported – since the overall support for Reform has seen a significant fall recently, EPL reports, this means Kallas' overall support as fallen too, while Jüri Ratas, who proved most popular overall in the poll for November (25 percent support as prime minister) polled slightly lower among respondents who vote for his own party (73 percent), but is more widely-supported by voters of other parties.
This support for Ratas cut across the political divide too – while 35 percent of Isamaa supporters picked Ratas as best choice for premier, so too did not only 12 percent of Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) supporters, but also 19 percent of Social Democratic Party (SDE) supporters, and 11 percent from among Eesti 200's voters.
Support for EKRE leader Martin Helme has also fallen on month, from 14 percent of respondents who thought he was the best choice for premier in October, to 11 percent in the latest poll, while support for Eesti 200 leader Kristina Kallas (no relation to Kaja) has moved in the opposite direction, from the 6-9-percent-mark between June to October, to 12 percent this month; SDE leader Indrek Saar's support as prime minister of choice has doubled, albeit from 2 percent to 4 percent, and Isamaa leader Helir Valdor-Seeder's has gone up slightly from 4 percent to 5 percent.
Karik Reivaart, research manager at Turu-uuringute, said that both Kaja Kallas and Helme had been battling with their own respective demons; in Kallas' case, accusations of procrastinating on restrictions and the vaccination program, twinned with a charge of poor communication by the government on the same things, while a late October anti-vaccinations/anti-restrictions demo in Tallinn's Vabaduse väljak (Freedom Square) saw several EKRE members, including one just-elected Tallinn city councilor, quit the party, which has also had a negative effect on Helme's rating, Reivaart said.
The original EPL piece (in Estonian) is here.
Editor: Andrew Whyte