Norstat survey: Dissatisfaction with coalition at a two-year high

While government ministers do not sit in the Riigikogu, they regularly appear there to answer questions and, as here, at the formal opening of a Riigikogu session.
While government ministers do not sit in the Riigikogu, they regularly appear there to answer questions and, as here, at the formal opening of a Riigikogu session. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Based on the latest results from a survey conducted by pollsters Norstat, 62 percent of people think that the current Reform-Eesti 200-SDE government is performing poorly, while 64 percent do not approve of the prime minister's job performance.

Both figures represent two-year highs in their categories.

The Norstat survey was commissioned by think-tank the Institute for Societal Studies (MTÜ Ühiskonnauuringute Instituut).

Commenting on these results, University of Tartu researcher Martin Mölder said that criticism of the government and the prime minister has peaked, adding that it had been at about the same level, especially in respect of the prime minister, immediately before the start of the war in Ukraine, ie. at the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022.

Mõlder said: "At that time, the reason for the general public dissatisfaction was most likely primarily the perceived inability of the government and the prime minister to adequately deal with the energy crisis that was already underway."

First natural gas and then electricity prices had started soaring in Estonia and elsewhere from summer 2021.

Then came the invasion of Ukraine.

"The war in Ukraine diverted attention elsewhere, and in essence, up to the [March] Riigikogu elections, the majority of the electorate had not been particularly critical of the government or of the prime minister," Mölder, of Tartu University's Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies, went on.

"However, this criticism increased significantly after the elections. According to the most recent data, criticism of the Prime Minister can be seen [increasing] by leaps and bounds," Mölder went on, adding this is most likely the result of controversy over the premier's husband's business interests, which broke in the media almost a month ago.

Respondents were given in the question on how well the government was doing its work four categories: "Very well," "quite well," "quite badly" and "very badly."

Sixty-two percent picked one or other of the latter two categories, ie. badly, while 32 percent chose either "very well" or "quite well" – the remaining six percent could not say.

The question pertaining to the prime minister's performance was phrased as: "Do you approve or disapprove of how Kaja Kallas has been handling her work as prime minister?" 

Sixty-four percent of respondents answered "I do not approve", 29 percent replied: "I approve," with eight percent undecided.

The breakdown by party found a majority of Reform and Eesti 200 supporters think that the government is doing its job well, though a small majority of Social Democratic (SDE) voters felt the other way. SDE is in office with Reform and Eesti 200.

Seventy-one percent of Reform Party supporters answered that the government's current performance is going very well or quite well; for Eesti 200, the figure was 55 percent.

Fifty-six percent of SDE supporters, however, said that the government was performing quite or very badly; for the opposition parties the figures saying the same were: 75 percent for Isamaa, 78 percent from among Center Party voters, and 91 percent from EKRE supporters.

As for the question about the performance of the prime minister herself, the only majority approval can be found from supporters of her own party, Reform, and even then the answer was not unanimous – 84 percent of respondents to the question who stated they were Reform Party voters found that they approved of Kallas' current work performance.

Supporters of the two other coalition parties were fairly evenly matched, with 53 percent of SDE and 52 percent of Eesti 200-supporting respondents saying they did not approve of her performance.

As might be expected, this figure rose among respondents who back the opposition parties: To 80 percent among Isamaa supporters, 88 percent from Center supporters and perhaps only the margin of error at work in preventing a 100 percent disapproval rating from among EKRE supporters, whose figure stood at 98 percent.

Norstat says it conducted its survey over the period September 11-18, quizzing a total of 1,000 Estonian citizens of voting age, both online and by phone, and weighted to various socio-demographic indicators.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mirjam Mäekivi

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