EKRE speeds to snap at Soc Dem and Free heels

PHOTO: Allikad: Turu-uuringute AS, ERR Uudised

Compared with last year's end, Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) has gained in popularity and risen to nearly equal Soc Dems and the Free Party level. 

As evidenced by a fresh Turu-uuringute AS/ERR poll, Centre Party keeps on leading the pack having added a percent to its support now at 26 percent. At 17 percent popularity, Reform trails Centre but has shed three percent of its popularity in a month.

Third-fourth places are shared by Soc Dems and the Free both at 13 percent; thereat, the soc dems have lost a percent while the Free have stayed the same. Right behind them there comes EKRE (12 percent) having gained most in the parliament – two percent – in popularity month-on-month.

Still the parliamentary underdog, IRL is supported by 7 percent of respondents to the poll.

All in all, coalition parties have the support of 37 percent while 51 percent of voters stand for the opposition.

The poll was responded to by 1,001 people between January 19th and February 2nd.

The fatally poor cooperation

As told Postimees by Reform secretary-general Reimo Nebokat, the poll shows voters want greater cooperation in the coalition. «The couple-of-percent drop in support of the governing coalition shows that next to the reforms being carried out, the voters also want to see a stronger will to cooperate in the issues outside the coalition treaty. When it comes to impact, the most important topics are the work capacity reform entering into force this year, and the administrative reform about to be launched,» commented Mr Nebokat.

Riigikogu speaker and Soc Dems member Eiki Nestor thinks the declining popularity of coalition parties is due to mutual differences and the lack of classical opposition. «Out of the opposition, at any moment somebody should be willing to step into the coalition, but currently this does not show in any of the three in opposition. In such conditions, those in power are having an urge and the opportunity to argue more between themselves. Lack of unity naturally affects the ratings, especially of the prime ministerial party,» said Mr Nestor.

As for the rising popularity of EKRE, Nestor cited the mass abuse of women in Cologne, Germany in New Year. «Surely their rating is more affected by what happened in Cologne, not some inside-of-Estonia event, thus I’d not attribute too much importance to the rise of EKRE’s support,» he said.

Secretary-general Kert Karus of IRL said there is surely room for development in the cooperation of coalition parties. «Meanwhile, it needs to be considered that the coalition parties also have to deal with policies that take life forward i.e. the economic and social issues which touch many people but draw less attention as compared to topics treated with much clamour,» said Mr Karus.

As for the rising popularity of EKRE, MR Karus substantiated this by the opposition parties being able to easily offer slogan-like solutions which are not realistic to carry out. «Ever since the elections, EKRE has had two topics to speak about: refugees and the [same sex] partnership act. Regarding the first, they are consistently into fear-mongering. The real population problems like emigration are not touched by EKRE,» said Mr Karus.

Best days gone

To comment the ratings, chairman of Centre Edgar Savisaar said the decline of Reform was no surprise and the best days of the government were behind it.

«The amount of the people who support them is shrinking and nobody wants to stand for them. I do think the best days of the government are way behind them and these are the last convulsions and is still trying to make it somehow,» Mr Savisaar told the Tallinn TV news programme «Today». As observed by Mr Savisaar, the longer the current coalition lingers, the heavier the fall of it.

As for the rising popularity of Centre, Mr Savisaar sees behind it the desire in people to find alternatives: «We are the strongest force unrepresented in the government. On the downward stairway currently trodden by Reform and IRL there are no changes whatsoever – they have achieved no breakthroughs. That’s a pity, but it is rather typical in a situation where the governmental parties pursue one policy but the people think otherwise.»

While the poll ordered by ERR (Public Broadcasting) set the current popularity of EKRE at 12 percent, the party’s chairman Mart Helme told the West-Estonian regional newspaper Lääne Elu of having recently ordered an independent poll also executed by Turu-uuringute AS – but using a differing methodology – showing the EKRE popularity at 16 percent.  

«While this is a speculation, but if the elections would be held tomorrow, we would take 15 percent,» said Mr Helme. «We will form the next government and will deliver Estonia from the harmful decisions taken for years.»