Party ratings: Reform leads, Isamaa's rises slightly
The Reform Party placed highest in a recent party support poll, followed by the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and the Center Party.
Isamaa's support also grew somewhat on the previous week, the survey, conducted by pollsters Kantar Emor on behalf of public broadcaster ERR, reveals.
Kantar Emor presented respondents to the survey with the first three candidates on each party's ordered electoral list, in each of the 12 districts.
Respondents selected one of these.
The rationale of only including the first three on an electoral list (which can run to a dozen or more in some districts) resulted, Kantar's Aivar Voog said, from the fact that on average, the top three figures take around 80 percent of the vote.
This was a sufficient proportion to translate the survey results into generalities, Voog said.
Compared with last week's Kantar Emor, the first to use the aforementioned methodology, there have been no major changes, possibly all within the limits of the margins of error in any case, with the exception of Isamaa, whose rating rose slightly more than that.
Reform polled at 31.3 percent, up 0.1 percentage points, putting them clearly in the lead, Kantar Emor reported.
EKRE finished second, on 18.6 percent, unchanged on last week, while Center saw a small, 0.4-percentage point rise in support, to 16.8 percent.
The support for the non-parliamentary Eesti 200 stood at 12.2 percent (11.9 percent a week earlier).
The Social Democrats polled at 8.1 percent, unchanged from last week.
Isamaa as noted saw a rise in support, to 6.7 percent (from 5.3 percent last week).
Five percent is a signal rating in Estonia, since it is also the threshold above which a party can win seats in a given electoral district, under Estonia's modified d'Hondt system of proportional representation.
Aivar Voog said Center, tussling with EKRE for second place, has more factors at its disposal which could potentially affect its rating, in the last four weeks before polling day, than does EKRE, which sits alone in its niche.
Appearing on ETV morning show "Terevisioon", Voog said: "The Center Party's position depends on the motivation of their voters."
A big factor is voter turnout on the day among the non-Estonian component of the electorate, referring overwhelmingly to Estonian citizens whose first language is Russian – a traditional wellspring of support for Center.
Center's ultimate number of seats depends on this, Voog added.
Historically speaking, there have been major changes in the order of political parties' support within a few weeks before the Riigikogu elections, but currently such a dynamic has not yet been seen, said Voog.
Parempoolsed and the Greens currently lie below the 5 percent threshold, at 2.3 percent and 1.9 percent respectively, Kantar Emor says, while other parties and independent candidates run at 2.1 percent together.
Theoretical seat distribution
Kantar Emor calculated how the above results would translate into Riigikogu seats, of which there are 101.
Reform would win 37, EKRE 20, Center 18, SDE seven and Isamaa six, on this basis.
This would mean Reform and EKRE gaining seats, the others losing them, compared with the current Riigikogu composition.
The balance would be made up by Eesti 200, who would have won their first ever Riigikogu seats – 13 of them, according to the rating.
Nonetheless, with four weeks to go, much can change before polling day.
The last Riigikogu elections in 2019 saw Reform and Center virtually neck-and-neck at this point in the race, but Reform drew ahead in the finish straight, to poll at 29 percent compared with 23 percent for Center.
Kantar Emor also polled respondents on party-only, alongside the top-three candidates questionnaire.
Here, Reform picked up 30.3 percent, EKRE 19.3 percent, Center 16.4 percent, and Eesti 200, 13.1 percent, similar to their three-candidates results.
SDE polled at 8.3 percent, Isamaa at 7.0 percent, both somewhat higher than the rating with candidates included.
The Greens polled at 2.4 percent, and Parempoolsed at 1.6 percent – the latter lower on brand-only, than they did with their top candidates named.
The three current coalition partners together (Reform, Isamaa, SDE) picked up 46 percent together, compared with 45 percent support a week earlier.
The two opposition parties, Center and EKRE, together saw their rating unchanged over a week, at 35 percent.
The more internationalist, liberal end of the Estonian political spectrum (meaning Reform, Eesti 200 and SDE, and speaking generally) picked up 52 percent of support (no change), while the more populist end of the spectrum (EKRE, Isamaa, Center, again a general classification) saw a slight, one-percentage point rise to 42 percent, on week.
Among native Estonian speaker respondents, Reform saw a drop to 35 percent (from 38 percent), EKRE a slight rise to 22 percent, and Eesti 200 unchanged at 13 percent. SDE polled at 9 percent, Isamaa and Center 8 percent apiece, Kantar Emor says.
Among voters of "other nationality", as noted, in reality overwhelmingly those voters whose first language is Russian, Center remained in first place on 48 percent (see above) though this represented a drop of several percentage points, from 53 percent last week.
Eesti 200 polled at 12 percent, Reform at 11 percent, EKRE at 10 percent and SDE at 6 percent.
In Tallinn, Center and Reform are even-stevens at 28 percent at present, followed by Eesti 200, whose rating is much the same as its national one – 13 percent – and EKRE on 10 percent.
The most populous electoral district, Harju and Rapla counties, which includes the Tallinn commuter belt, Reform is a clear leader on 38 percent, with EKRE behind them on 23 percent of support.
Elsewhere, Reform tops the list (33 percent) in western Estonia and the islands, though EKRE outperforms its national average at 27 percent; in South Estonia, EKRE is a clear leader on 35 percent, though Reform is second, with 18 percent.
In Ida-Viru County, Center and Reform are both on 25 percent, in a district which traditionally gave much of its support to Center, particularly if voter turnout was high.
Support figures with 'can't say' respondents included
Kantar Emor removed respondents who were unpledged, in the above ratings, in order to make the results comparable to a Riigikogu election, when of course "don't know" is not an option on the ballot sheet.
If these respondents – who totaled 26 percent, down from as high as 30 percent in December – were included, Reform's support falls somewhat, to 22 percent, and EKRE and Center's rises slightly, to 14 percent and 2 percent respectively.
Eesti 200 support was 10 percent on this basis, SDE's 6 percent and Isamaa's 5 percent – all below the figures posted with unpledged respondents stripped out.
Most-supported candidate by district
There are 12 electoral districts in Estonia's Riigikogu elections; Kantar Emor also identified the most-supported in each case, by district.
Reform has eight of these, EKRE two, Center one, and an independent candidate takes the other, as follows:
Electoral district No. 1 (Tallinn Haabersti, Põhja Tallinn and Kristiine): Kristen Michal (Reform).
Electoral district No. 2 (Tallinn Kesklinn, Lasnamäe and Pirita): Mihhail Kõlvart (Center).
Electoral district No. 3 (Tallinn Mustamäe and Nõmme): Urmas Paet (Reform).
Electoral district No. 4 (Harju and Rapla counties): Kaja Kalla (Reform).
Electoral district No. 5 (Hiiu, Lääne and Saare counties): Urve Tiidus (Reform).
Electoral district No. 6 (Lääne-Viru County): Anti Poolamets (EKRE).
Electoral district No. 7 (Ida-Viru County): Mihhail Stalnuhhin (independent candidate, former Center Party member).
Electoral district No. 8 (Järva- and Viljandi counties): Jürgen Ligi (Reform).
Electoral district No. 9 (Jõgeva and Tartu counties): Urmas Kruuse (Reform).
Electoral district No. 10 (Tartu City): Urmas Klaas (Reform).
Electoral district No. 11 (Võru, Valga and Põlva counties): Liina Kersna (Reform).
Electoral district No. 12 (Pärnu County): Mart Helme (EKRE).
Kantar Emor conducted its survey on behalf of ERR's Estonian-language news, polling respondents between January 30 and February 2.
1,554 Estonian citizens aged 18-84 were quizzed, online (two-thirds of respondents) or over the phone (one third). Kantar Emor claims a maximum margin of error of +/1 2.4 percent for the above survey.
Polling day is March 5, preceded by several days' advance voting.
Follow ERR News on Facebook and Twitter and never miss an update!
Editor: Urmet Kook, Andrew Whyte, Marcus Turovski