The politically quiet summer season has improved the ratings of two Estonian parties, as the Estonian Greens have exceeded the election threshold while the opposition Reform Party is drumming up support it had previously lost.
The results of the public opinion survey commissioned by daily Postimees and BNS and conducted by pollster Kantar Emor in the past week indicate that there have been no great changes in the ratings of political parties.
According to the survey, the only significant change is that the Estonian Greens have exceeded the five-percent election threshold for the first time in years.
"The Greens' ideas are more relevant," said Kantar Emor survey manager Aivar Voog. "Their supporters are young and with a more liberal, environmentally conscious and greener worldview."
Estonian Greens chairwoman Zuleyxa Izmailova said that she was pleased by the growth in support. "So it is that the more there are topics such as the recent mass death of bees due to the use of pesticide, the more this gives us an opportunity to discuss our things and there is more reason for people to think about us," she said, adding that in the past few days in particular, more and more new people have turned to the Greens in order to join the party and run in the upcoming elections.
The Greens want to run in this fall's local elections with their own list in Tallinn and fight for a pesticide-free city, while elsewhere the party will for the most part run in election as part of election coalitions.
Strong brands keep numbers high for Reform, Center
"The Reform party has more or less restored the status it had during the 2015 parliamentary elections," Voog highlighted, comparing the party's 26-percent support with its 27-percent support two years ago.
"Traces of the Reform Party in people's emotional memory are strong," he said, adding that this had guaranteed the party a high rating even when not appearing actively in public. "A strong image which they had created earlier has helped them now."
A strong brand likewise allowed the Center Party to maintain a high rating, although in competition the Reform Party surpassed the Center Party for the third month in a row. According to the July survey, support for the Center Party stood at 23 percent.
"The ruling coalition's confusing, two-faced and do-and-don't policy has finally begun reaching people," Reform Party chairman Hanno Pevkur said. "In addition, people have started to sense the mockery that is the hostage drama of the ruling coalition. While the prime minister's party has been exchanging Estonian values for cash due to some of the party's East-looking members, the Social Democratic Party (SDE) and the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union (IRL) have been hiding tamely under a rock."
The two junior coalition parties' ratings remained virtually unchanged in July, with SDE increasingly slightly to somewhere between 14-15 percent and IRL decreasing lightly, remaining slightly above six percent.
Voog said that IRL could have expected that the change in chairman would increase the party's rating somewhat, but that hope was quashed by the negative message conveyed by the leaving of former party chairman Margus Tsahkna and party mate Marko Mihkelson.
Secretary General of the Center Party Mihhail Korb said that the decrease in the senior coalition party's ratings by a couple percent indicates relative stability. "The rating is definitely also somewhat influenced by [Estonia's current EU] presidency," he posited. "In which direction, I do not know, but the presidency is taking up a considerable amount of the ministers' time and this concerns communication outward from Estonia and not inwards." Korb also cited the activity of the government as having had an impact on the rating, however he failed to mention the tensions within the party with regards to the election lists in Tallinn.
EKRE remains stable in third
Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) parliamentary group chairman Martin Helme was quite pleased with his party rating. "If we as an opposition party hold a stable third place over the summer as well, when the Riigikogu is not in session, then that is a great result for us," he said. "This is a position from which we will face the lcocal ect
Martin Helme, chairman of the parliamentary group of the Estonian Conservative People's Party (EKRE) was very pleased with the rating of his party. "If we as an opposition party hold a stable third place also during summer, when the parliament is not in session, then that is a great result for us," Helme said. "This is a position from which we face the local elections quite confidently."
"Compared to fall 2016, EKRE has experienced a noticeable increase — from ten to 16 percent," Voog highlighted. "At the same time, it is the exact opposite case for the Free Party. Last October, their rating stood at 15 percent when they were being discussed a potential coalition partners during the government crisis, while now the party's rating is 7.4 percent."
According to Voog, the decrease in the ratings of the Free Party has been influenced by the fact that they decided to forgo running in the elections as a party. "This may take them even further out of the picture," he waned. "While the Reform party as an old party with a strong brand can allow themselves to be away from the media without anything happening, the Free Party as a newer party will experience repercussions, as their image is relatively confusing."
Free Party chairman Artur Talvik agreed with Vooglaid's assessment concerning local elections. "The reason likely lies in us behaving completely differenty from typical political behavior, as the Free Party supports election coalitions in the local elections and we think that parties should not interfere in local life or bring the ideological fight to the local level," he said. "I sincerely hope that some part of our support has recently gone to the election coalitions."
Editor: Aili Vahtla