Ratings: Isamaa's coalition effect ebbs, Narva tank boosts SDE support

Interior minister Lauri Läänemets' perceived handling of the recent Narva tank monument controversy has given a boost to the popularity of his party, the Social Democrats, who now outstrip coalition partner Isamaa, according to a recent survey.
Interior minister Lauri Läänemets' perceived handling of the recent Narva tank monument controversy has given a boost to the popularity of his party, the Social Democrats, who now outstrip coalition partner Isamaa, according to a recent survey. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR. Collage: JJ Oidermaa

The removal of the Narva tank monument seems to have had a positive effect on the Social Democratic Party's (SDE), according to a recent survey commissioned by ERR, since it showed the party, previously perceived as being 'soft', in a stronger light.

The survey, conducted by pollsters Kantar Emor on behalf of ERR, also finds that Isamaa has seen an erosion of much of the support it first received after entering office in the current coalition last month.

The Reform Party remained the most-supported party in August, with 31 percent of voting-age citizens pledging their support for the coalition party, Kantar Emor finds.

With July's rating at 30 percent and June's at 32 percent, Reform's support, buoyed in the immediate aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and mainly in relation to perceptions over the prime minister's handling of the crisis, has remained relatively static over summer.

The opposition Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) placed second on 18 percent, again, unchanged from the preceding two months.

Kantar Emor's research expert Aivar Voog said: "EKRE's rating has been relatively stable, at a level of 17-18 percent, for the last six months."

As for the opposition Center Party, in office until early June, the party came in in third place on 15-16 percent over the three months of summer (16 percent in august), Kantar Emor finds.

The non-parliamentary Eesti 200 was fourth, according to Kantar Emor, on 13 percent of support.

The party has been seen its support haemorrhaging this year, but this has stabilized from July, Voog said.

SDE, in office, has risen to 11 percent, a nine-month high for a party which was in opposition from April 2019 to July this year.

SDE's interior minister, Larui Läänemets, and his perceived handling of the Narva tank monument removal and relocation, have been behind this rise, Voog said.

"The process of moving the Narva tank monument brought the SDE interior minister Lauri Läänmets into the media spotlight, which had a positive effect on SDE's rating and allowed the party to regain fifth place, on 11 percent," he said.

"Perhaps their problem is that they have been seen as somewhat of a 'soft' party. Now, relating to the events in Narva in August, they have been able to show a side which appears to be stronger," Voog continued, adding that SDE has been second-choice with many voters of other parties, meaning there is potential for growth there also.

Nonetheless, SDE's growth so far has only been modest, Voog said, adding that the phenomenon of Isamaa's boost in popularity in July turning out to be temporary, was more significant.

The party's support dropped from 11 percent in July, to 7 percent in august

"The process of forming a new government coalition, which gave a clear boost to Isamaa's rating, has lost its effect, and the party's rating is again closer to the average over the past year, i.e. seven percent, placing them sixth in the ranking," Voog said, noting that July's support was shored up by voters who might not normally vote Isamaa.

Voog added that such rapid oscillations often cut both ways. "When something changes quickly, it can also revert."

"After all, Isamaa's rating increase last month was related to the addition of a more ad hoc group of supporters."

The other two, non-parliamentary parties, the Greens and TULE, picked up two percent and one percent of support respectively, not enough to win seats in an actual election (where 5 percent in a constituency is required).
Another party, Parempoolsed, clustered around dissident ex-Isamaa members, only announced its formation on August 18 and so is not reflected in the survey results.

Overall, the three coalition parties, Reform, Isamaa and SDE, polled at 49 percent; the two opposition parties, Center and EKRE, at 34 percent, Kantar Emor says.

Support by demographic


Reform (36 percent) and SDE (14 percent) perform better than their overall average among women voters, while EKRE does the same with male voters (at 26 percent).

Other than that, no significant gender breakdown has been observed, Kantar Emor says.


The Reform Party was overwhelmingly (38 percent) the most popular among Estonian voters, followed by EKRE (19 percent), Eesti 200 (13 percent), SDE (11 percent), Isamaa (nine percent) and the Center Party (eight percent).

Among respondents from other nationalities, meaning in practice Russian-speakers, for the most part, the Center Party (46 percent), traditionally the go-to party for this demographic, remained most popular (though at a far smaller proportion than in years gone by), followed fairly equally by EKRE (14 percent), SDE and Eesti 200 (both 12 percent). 

Eight percent of voters of other ethnicities supported Reform; just two percent pledged their support to the national-conservative Isamaa.

Location (Tallinn)

Reform(28 percent) and Center (27 percent) were neck-and-neck in the capital, followed by EKRE (14 percent), SDE (12 percent), Eesti 200 (11 percent) and Isamaa (five percent).

ERR commissioned Kantar Emor to conduct the survey, which it did between August 11 and 22, polling 1,514 Estonian citizens aged 18 to 84, via a 50-50 split online and 'phone poll.

Since "can't say" would not be an option at next spring's general election, respondents who answered in that way were removed from the survey, which, Kantar Emor says, makes the results more comparable with a Riigikogu election.

That said, both in August and July, 30 percent of respondents answered: "Can't say".


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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