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Ratings: Support equalizes for Reform Party and SDE

Reform leader and Prime Minister Kaja Kallas with SDE leader and Interior Minister Lauri Läänemets, at the government's regular Thursday press conference.
Reform leader and Prime Minister Kaja Kallas with SDE leader and Interior Minister Lauri Läänemets, at the government's regular Thursday press conference. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Support levels for the six political parties represented at the Riigikogu are particularly clearly demarcated along the left-right spectrum, according to a recent survey, which sees the Social Democrats (SDE) at a five-year high, and the Center Party at its lowest over that same time-frame.

Support for Reform, the prime minister's party, is also at a five-year low, and that of Eesti 200 is at the lowest for four years.

Isamaa's support remains buoyant, the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) remains ahead of the Reform Party, while SDE have drawn level with the latter.

A total of 56.2 percent of respondents to the survey, conducted by pollsters Norstat on behalf of conservative think-tank the Institute of Societal Studies (MTÜ Ühiskonnauuringute Instituut), pledged their support for one of the three opposition parties: Isamaa, EKRE or the Center Party.

A further 39 percent picked one of the three coalition partners, namely the Reform Party, SDE or Eesti 200, with the balance made up of undecided respondents.

By individual party, the conservative Isamaa party remains most-supported according to Norstat, polling at 26.4 percent, followed by the populist national conservative EKRE on 18.4 percent.

Liberal parties Reform and SDE are neck-and-neck according to Norstat, polling at 16.7 percent each.

SDE's support had risen by 1.2 percentage points over the past week alone, and by five percentage points over the preceding five weeks, and is now at a five-year high.

Meanwhile support for the Reform Party is at its lowest level since Norstat begun conducting its polls in their current format, which it did in early 2019.

Moving in the other direction, the Center Party has seen its rating fall by 1.3 percentage points on the week, and by 3.8 percentage points over five weeks, again reaching an all-time low so far as Norstat's surveys go.

Finally Eesti 200 at 5.6 percent of support is also the lowest it has been for several years, in this case since late 2019 (the party was only founded in summer 2019).

Five percent of the vote in any electoral district in any of Estonia's direct elections is the minimum required to win seats under the modified d'Hondt system of proportional representation used here.

The line graph below shows changes in party support since early 2019, when 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).

A total of seven high-profile MPs left the Center Party in recent weeks, leaving it with six seats at the Riigikogu whereas a year ago it had over 20. The most recent departure was former Center leader and former prime minister Jüri Ratas, who has joined Isamaa, while SDE was the beneficiary of four of the other Center departures. The remaining two are sitting as independents.

Three Center MPs left last fall also, two to Isamaa and one to Reform.

Norstat conducts its surveys on a weekly basis, aggregating the results over the preceding four weeks. The current survey covers the period January 8 to February 2, 2024, and polled a total of 4,001 Estonian citizens of voting age, both online and over the phone, with the sample weighted to various socio-demographic characteristics.

Voters without a party preference are excluded when calculating the relative support of political parties, Norstat says, while the margin of error rises in direct proportion to the size of a party by support. So for instance the margin of error in the case of Isamaa, the most-supported party according to Norstat, is +/-1.58 percent, compared with +/-0.8 percent in the case of Eesti 200.

The next elections are to the European Parliament, on June 9.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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