The Centre Party and the Reform Party are neck and neck in the race for this year's European elections, a poll commissioned by ERR shows. Both parties at this point have the support of 28% of the electorate.
The survey was carried out by means of face-to-face interviews by pollster Turu-uuringute AS between 7 and 20 February. While the Centre Party is 4% behind its January rating, the Reform Party has gained 2%.
According to this most recent rating, both parties at this point can expect to get two mandates in the next European Parliament. In terms of parliamentary groups, this means four mandates for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), to which both Centre and Reform belong.
The Conservative People's Party (EKRE) had 15% of voters' support, which is 2% more than in January, meaning that they can expect one mandate. The Social Democratic Party (SDE) and Isamaa each have the support of 7% of respondents, while Estonia 200 comes in at 6%.
Candidates may substantially change outcome
It is of some note that so far, only one party has announced its candidates. Former prime minister and current Vice President of the European Commission Andrus Ansip, former Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas and the incumbent Urmas Paet are running for the Reform Party, while the other parties have said they won't announce until after the general election on 3 March.
The current survey thus represents support of different political parties rather than of specific candidates. This means that once all the names are out, the ratings may change substantially.
The same also applies for the surveys in the ongoing campaign for the general election. ERR's most recent survey published on Monday saw both the Reform Party and Isamaa gaining ground, as it asked respondents about their preferred candidates rather than their preferred parties. Isamaa eg has gained several percent thanks to this different approach.
Reform's candidates difficult to beat
Apart from the incumbent Yana Toom (Centre/ALDE), the prime minister's party has only few names that would make for a ticket as illustrious as that of the opposition Reform Party.
The question, then, is who the other parties eventually nominate. SDE has hinted at both Marina Kaljurand and incumbent MEP Indrek Tarand was potential candidates. Both are also running for the Riigikogu.
EKRE's chairman, Mart Helme, has told ERR that while his party has discussed the European elections, they won't announce any candidates before the outcome of the general election is clear. Should EKRE not become part of the next coalition government, likely candidates are Mart and Martin Helme.
Isamaa meanwhile have an incumbent candidate in Tunne Kelam, though there has been speculation that the party may rather nominate current Minister of Defence Jüri Luik as its front runner.
What is clear is that Estonia gets one more mandate to fill in this year's European Election, since the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU will change the make-up of the European Parliament as well, with the number of MEPs shrinking from previously 751 to 705.
The additional mandate would take Estonia's number of MEPs from currently six to seven.
Estonia's current MEPs are Urmas Paet and Igor Gräzin (Reform/ALDE), Yana Toom (Centre/ALDE), Indrek Tarand (independent/Greens/EFA), Ivari Padar (SDE/S&D) and Tunne Kelam (Isamaa/EPP).
Editor: Dario Cavegn