The four-week long fall in support for the ruling Reform Party has led to an equalization between it and the opposition Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE), according to a survey whose results were published Wednesday.
A total of 39.8 percent of respondents to the survey, conducted by pollsters Norstat on behalf of conservative think-tank the Institute for Societal Studies (MTÜ Ühiskonnauuringute Instituut), pledged for one of the three coalition parties: Reform, Eesti 200 or the Social Democrats (SDE), while a total of 54.7 percent said they support one of the three opposition parties, namely the Center Party, Isamaa or EKRE.
Norstat compiles its poll on a weekly basis, aggregating the results over the preceding four weeks.
By party, EKRE is a tenth of a percentage point ahead of Reform, Norstat says, at 23.1 percent versus 23 percent.
Isamaa retains the third place it recently took from Center, at 16.7 percent.
Reform's support has fallen by 1.4 percentage points over the past week, and by 2.9 percentage points over the past three weeks, according to Norstat, whereas EKRE's support remained unchanged, at least over the week.
Isamaa's rally continues – the party has seen its support rise by 6.9 percentage points in seven weeks, Norstat says, and is at the highest point since Norstat started conducting its surveys in their current format, in early 2019.
The "top" three are followed by the Center Party, which polled at 14.9 percent this week according to Norstat, SDE on 10.5 percent, and Eesti 200, who picked up 6.3 percent in support.
Support for Center, which last month obtained a new leader in Tallinn Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart, has fallen by 3.6 percentage points over the past seven weeks, though the fall in support for Eesti 200 seems to have bottomed out.
In respect of Reform's fall in support, University of Tartu political scientist Martin Mölder told daily Postimees that that party has not stood out in any positive regard recently, with instead what in the Estonian media is known as the "Eastern transport scandal", plus a seemingly ham-fisted state budget process, dominating the tone.
Mölder noted that the picture is even less rosy for Reform when taking Norstat's results on a week-by-week basis rather than the four-week aggregate as above.
The overall fall over the four weeks is around five percentage points, Mölder said, adding that this means in the coming weeks, Reform's aggregated result will fall behind that of EKRE.
Reform may further lose support due to its proposed car tax, which has proven so far to be unpopular, and the planned hate speech bill, Mölder said (EKRE has capitalized on both of these issues in a recent online ad campaign – ed.).
Another political scientist, Tõnis Saarts, highlighted the difference between the Kallas-led Reform Party, and the time of Andrus Ansip, prime minister 2005 to 2014.
While the latter was able to instill in the electorate a concept of "if you're not with us, you're with Russia's Vladimir Putin," for Kallas, this delineation is not working out, not the least in the wake of the controversy over her husband's business interests having included activity in Russia.
The line graph below shows the relative changes in party support levels since Norstat started compiling its surveys in their current format. (Key: Yellow = Reform, green = Center, black = EKRE, royal blue = Isamaa, red = SDE, light blue = Eesti 200, light green = Estonian Greens, orange = Parempoolsed.)
The above survey was aggregated over the weeks September 11-18, September 18-25, September 26 to October 2, and October 2-9, with 4,000 Estonian citizens of Riigikogu voting age (ie. 18 and over, with no age ceiling) questioned.
Respondents with no party preference are excluded when calculating the relative support of political parties, in order to make the results comparable with a Riigikogu election (when of course a "don't know" voting option is not available).
Norstat claims a margin of error in direct proportion to the size of a party by support – so for instance with the above results, EKRE as the most-supported party has a margin of error of +/- 1.6 percent attached to its results, compared with +/- 0.92 percent for Eesti 200, the smallest party by support, of the six Riigikogu parties.
The survey was conducted via a combination of online and over-the-phone questionnaires, while the input respondent sample was weighted to various socio-economic and demographic indicators, Norstat says.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mait Ots