Party ratings: Isamaa rises to second-place behind Reform

Reform (20 percent) and Isamaa (19 percent) top the table of party ratings for October, according to Kantar Emor
Reform (20 percent) and Isamaa (19 percent) top the table of party ratings for October, according to Kantar Emor Source: Kairit Leibold/ERR, collage: JJ Oidermaa

Opposition party Isamaa has risen to become second-most supported after the coalition Reform Party, and lies only just behind it in the ratings, according to a recent survey, while the opposition Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) is not far behind.

Meanwhile the Center Party has fallen as low as fifth place, according to the poll, conducted by Kantar Emor on behalf of public broadcaster ERR.

The combined support for the three coalition parties, Reform, Eesti 200 and SDE, stood at 42 percent in October, compared with 50 percent for the three opposition parties combined: EKRE, Isamaa and Center.

While these figures were largely unchanged from September, according to Kantar, in August, the coalition parties (47 percent in total) outstripped the opposition parties (at 45 percent).

Kantar Emor conducts its ratings on a monthly basis.

For October, Kantar found Reform and Isamaa polled at 20 percent and 19 percent respectively.

This puts Isamaa, who acquired a new leader in Urmas Reinsalu back in June, just one percentage point behind Reform, the prime minister's party, according to Kantar Emor.

The last time Isamaa, or more accurately its progenitor party, polled in second place was shortly before the turn of the millennium, ERR reports.

This also makes Isamaa the largest opposition party by support – the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) having fallen to third plcae on 17 percent, Kantar says.

Kantar Emor research expert Aivar Voog, responsible for conducting the latest survey, said that when viewed over a time-frame longer than one month, it can be observed that Reform's rating is continuing to fall, while Isamaa's is moving in the opposite direction.

"EKRE's rating has been very unstable this year, however, fluctuating between 14-23 percent," he added.

Compared to the election results, the decline of the Reform Party and the rise of Isamaa have been large – in the elections, the Reform Party received 31.2 percent support (and 37 mandates), the support of Isamaa in the elections was only 8.2 percent (eight mandates).

Isamaa on the other hand was languishing at that time, and feeling the effects of a rift in the party between its more inward-looking wing and its more internationalist wing, exemplified to a certain extent by Reinsalu, a former foreign minister.

Isamaa won just eight seats at the Riigikogu, off 8.2 percent of the vote; the next Riigikogu election is not until March 2027, however.

Voog added that the situation with the leading parties has thus become more balanced, while something similar happened at the beginning of last year, when the ratings of four parties were more or less at the same level (in that case, Reform, Center, EKRE and Eesti 200 – ed.).

"Since the situation within the political party landscape seems to be very tumultuous, the next month can also see significantly different results from this one," he cautioned.

Center Party continuing to haemorrhage Estonian supporters

With the coalition Social Democrats (SDE) in fourth place with 15 percent support in the latest Kantar Emor survey, that party has now surpassed Center, whose support stood at 14 percent (down from 16 percent last month, and 17 percent in August).

At the March election, Center polled at 15.3 percent; SDE at 9.3 percent, with 16 and nine seats respectively at the XV Riigikogu – though two Center MPs have left the party following the change in leader.

As with EKRE, Voog pointed out that SDE's rating has not had a set trajectory over the past six months, and has fluctuated between 10 and 15 percent.

As for looking at results on the basis of a survey respondent's nationality or ethnicity, ie. are native Estonian-speaking, or Russian-speaking, Center's support among the former category has fallen to just 4 percent. 

At the time when Tallinn Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart became Center leader last month, the party's support with that demographic stood at 7 percent.

In August,  former prime minister Jüri Ratas's last month at the helm, Center polled at 9 percent, according to Kantar – still not a particularly impressive number.

Meanwhile, a total of 51 percent of respondents from "other ethnicities," meaning Russian-speakers mainly, supported Center in October, essentially the same the 52 percent seen last month.

The figure in August had been 46 percent, demonstrating both that Kõlvart's ascension as party leader – the mayor and his party derives much of its support in Tallinn from the capital's Russian-speaking electorate – had led to a rise in support from this demographic, and that this rise has not fully compensated for the loss of Estonian-speaking voter support.

So Center's support continues to fall, in other words.

Eesti 200 continues to bump along the bottom

Eesti 200, which won its first seats, 14 of them, at the March election, is currently languishing in sixth place by support from among the represented parties, at 7 percent according to Kantar Emor.

This figure remains unchanged on August and September – compared with almost twice as high a proportion of support on the day back in March, when it polled at 13.3 percent of actual voters.

Reasons for this decline likely relate mainly to a series of controversies to have engulfed some of Eesti 200's MPs, the departure of some relatively high-profile founder members, and teething problems in going from no Riigikogu seats to being in office alongside more seasoned parties.

Of the non-represented major parties, Parempoolsed polled highest, at 4 percent, just one percentage point below the figure needed to win seats in any constituency in any of Estonia's direct elections.

The Estonian Greens (Rohelised) polled at 3 percent, also significant in that it is one percentage point above the level needed to obtain state support.

EÜVP, a pro-Kremlin party, polled at 1 percent, according to Kantar.

Ratings with "don't know" respondents included

A total of 24 percent of respondents to the Kantar Emor survey said they could not state a preference for any particular party, up from 21 percent last month.

These responses are not taken into account in the above figures, given that there is no "don't know" option on ballot sheets.

However, if they are taken into account, this shows Reform at 15 percent of support (down from 19 percent last month) and Isamaa at 10 percent (unchanged on September's figure).

Support for EKRE with the "don't knows" factored-in came to 13 percent (compared with 16 percent in September).

For SDE the figure was 11 percent (9 percent last month) and for Center, 10 percent (cf 12 percent in September).

Eesti 200 polled at 5 percent on this basis, compared with 6 percent last month.

Kantar Emor conducted its survey as requested by the ERR newsroom, over the period October 13-18, polling 1,486 citizens of voting age, with an age ceiling of 84.

Respondents were quizzed over the phone and online, with a one third: Two thirds spit here.

Kantar Emor claims a margin of error of +/- 2.2 percent.


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Editor: Urmet Kook, Andrew Whyte

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