Expert: Party ratings much more stable than ahead of previous elections
Kantar Emor expert Aivar Voog said, that the current party ratings are significantly more stable than those seen ahead of previous Riigikogu elections, which benefits the Reform Party in particular. Voog was discussing the results of the latest polls with ERR journalists Huko Aaspõllu and Urmet Kook during ERR's ratings special.
At the same time, Voog noted that there are still likely to be some changes in party ratings before the Riigikogu elections in March. "There are some voters with random preferences, and they will make their decisions at the last minute. There may (still) be some be ups and downs, but in January the situation was very stable," Voog said.
Aaspõllu asked, whether there are any issues that could still have a significant influence on the party ratings, such as the debate surrounding the proposed expansion of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) Nursipalu Training Area.
Urmet Kook asked whether, for example, Reform Party leader and Prime Minister Kaja Kallas might benefit from the Nursipalu issue being temporarily suspended.
According to Voog, the Nursipalu debate is definitely a very emotive issue. "It will definitely have an impact in South Estonia. Changes can certainly happen. If there is an emotional event here, it could have an impact," said Voog.
Aaspõllu suggested, that if Reform were to go soft on the Nursipalu issue, it could erode their image as a resolute image as a party, which is tough on security.
However, Voog does not believe Reform would want to get tough on the issue so close to the elections.
Urmet Kook asked Voog about the impact of TV debates on the party ratings.
Voog replied, that the debates are primarily watched by the more educated among the electorate, who already have their preferences and have made their choices about who to vote for.
All the panelists acknowledged that public meetings have an important impact on mobilizing supports to come out and vote for the parties on election day.
Discussing the preferences of Russian-speaking voters, Kook said, that a distinct set of alternatives has emerged for them, and that they are also increasingly voting according to the worldview they hold, rather than simply nationality.
Voog pointed out that for those who remain undecided, the party they are most likely to vote for is the Center Party, with 21-22 percent.
Voog said, that confidence among voters for Eesti 200 increased significantly in January.
"They are moving towards (achieving) a result of more than 10 percent," Voog said.
As for EKRE's rating, Voog said it is significantly lower now than last year. "For a part of their voters, their communication doesn't seem to be clear," he said.
Kook added, that EKRE's position on security policy is also creating confusion.
Kook asked, whether the most popular candidate in Ida-Viru County, Mihhail Stalnuhhin, who is running as an independent candidate, has a chance of winning a personal mandate.
According to Voog, for this to happen, his level of support would need to increase one and a half times over.
"The impact will be huge and the Center Party will lose out," said Voog, adding that Center is expected to perform twice as badly in Ida-Viru County as it did during the last Riigikogu lections.
According to the results of a weekly poll commissioned by ERR and conducted by Kantar Emor, which included the names of the candidates, 31.3 percent of respondents said they supported the Reform Party. The figure was 31.4 percent a week earlier. 18.6 percent expressed support for EKRE, while Center had 16.8 percent. The former remained exactly the same as the previous week, while the latter increased by 0.4 percent.
12.2 percent of respondents said they would vote for Eesti 200 (11.9 percent a week earlier), while the Social Democratic Party (SDE) had 8.1 percent support, exactly the same as the week before.
Only Isamaa's level of support changed by more than a single percentage point from the previous week. In this week's poll, which included the names of the candidates, Isamaa had 6.7 percent support, compared with 5.3 percent a week earlier.
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Editor: Michael Cole