Jüri Ratas: Neither Reform nor EKRE will win March 5 general election
Neither the coalition Reform Party nor the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE), the two parties which have regularly polled highest in recent support ratings, will win the March 5 Riigikogu election, Center Party leader Jüri Ratas says.
Instead, Ratas said, Center will win – meaning be the party who gains more seats than any other, but not an absolute majority – the election.
Ratas, who is also Riigikogu speaker, told ETV politics show "Esimene stuudio" Thursday that the two parties have conspired to confront each other in the weeks leading up to the elections, in an effort to bolster their own position – a move, Ratas says, which voters will see through.
The strength of the election campaign derives from the children's playroom and political culture of each politician, he added, and: "Also on how powerfully such sentences put down in black-and-white and get amplified. We can see today that they have been amplified very strongly."
"I think confrontation in an election campaign really comes down to between who is engaged in cock-fighting – there are a couple of good ones, in my opinion. The other involves coming up with substantial platform ideas; coming up with professional politicians and candidates, and to bring that to the people as far as is possible through the campaign, via meetings. This is key. Do we [at Center] have a few substantive topics to discuss? There are more than a few," he went on.
"My belief is that neither EKRE nor Reform will win the upcoming Riigikogu elections. I think that the picture that emerges in four months' time will be quite different. I sincerely believe that. If we take a look at the results from the local government elections a year ago, the Center Party won those . I think that the people will also see through things. This type of antagonism in the headlines headlines, which can be interesting at some point, but ultimately, what is actually desired is solutions."
The most recently reported opinion poll, from Turu-uuringute, puts the Center party at below 15 percent, an all-time low and a figure which Ratas said he could not be satisfied with.
"However, we have become very active, we have held more than 100 meetings on the streets in the last month and a half, more than 100 new members have joined [the party], and the manifesto is about to be finalized. The candidates people vote for also count," he added, by way of ideas on boosting the party's rating.
Ratas said that he put the figure of seats the party should win next spring at 20.
Center currently has 26 Riigikogu seats.
Reform and EKRE polled at 32 percent and 24 percent respectively in the same Turu-uuringute survey mentioned above, and have 34 and 19 seats respectively at the XIV Riigikogu.
The formation of the new government starts as early as the end of polling day, Ratas told "Esimene stuudio".
He said: "In politics, you have to act quickly and clearly. Center's desire is to achieve a strong result and next time form a government; as I said, I think that this work will start already on the evening of March 5."
Ratas also declined to rule out or in cooperation with any particular party which wins seats.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael
Source: Esimene stuudio