IRL's support falls below election threshold of 5 pct

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Photo: Liis Treimann

The support of Estonia's Pro Patria and Res Publica Union (IRL), a member of the government coalition, in April fell below the election threshold of 5 percent, results of a survey commissioned by BNS and the daily Postimees and carried out by pollster Kantar Emor show.

IRL was supported by 4.7 percent, the Free Party by 11.2 percent, the Conservative People's Party (EKRE) by 14.1 percent and the Social Democratic Party (SDE) by 15.4 percent of respondents. Similarly to March the support of the leading coalition member Center Party and the opposition Reform Party was practically equal. The Center Party was supported by 24.8 percent and the Reform Party by 24.5 percent of respondents.

Compared with March the support of the Center Party as well as the Reform Party fell 1.7 percentage points and IRL's support by 1.6 percentage points. Meanwhile, the Free Party's support rose 1.6 percentage points and SDE's 0.9 percentage points, while EKRE's support remained unchanged.

Of non-parliamentary parties, the Greens of Estonia boasted the highest support, or 4.9 percent, which is 1.9 percentage points more than in March.

The government coalition's support totaled 45 percent in April, which is 2 percentage points less than in March, while 25.6 percent of respondents said they have no preference, 0.9 percentage points less than in March. The answers of the people who listed "no preference" as to party identification were eliminated from the outcome to make it as comparable as possible with the outcome of an election held during the survey period.

Kantar Emor interviewed 880 voting-age citizens of ages 18-74 in their homes and over the internet for the survey from Apr. 10 to 18.

Expert: Increased media coverage fails to raise IRL's support

Disagreements inside Estonia's Pro Patria and Res Publica Union (IRL) increased the party's media coverage in April, but not the party's support, Aivar Voog, expert at Kantar Emor, said commenting on the fresh party ratings published on Friday.

«There were no major changes in party ratings compared to March. The Center Party and the Reform Party are still heading the party rating chart at a more or less equal position of around 25 percent,» Voog told BNS. He added that the rating of both parties has somewhat declined, but not much.

«But the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union is continuing with its long-term decline. Although internal disputes increased the party's media coverage, the faith of potential voters in the party didn't increase,» Voog said. As a result the total rating of the government coalition continues to decline, reaching 45 percent in April, he added.

The total rating of the three coalition parties -- the Center Party, the Social Democration Party (SDE) and IRL-- is especially low in rural areas where the two clear rating leaders are the opposition Reform Party and Conservative People's Party (EKRE). «Rural residents would probably want the government to have a more conservative policy and less price rises,» Voog said. He added that residents of cities are more satisfied with the current coalition and also non-Estonian speaking residents, among whom the coalition's total rating is nearly 90 percent.

«The popularity of the Greens has increased considerably. There are many people who support their world-view but who have had doubts regarding the party, but electing a new leader provided them with more faith in the party,» Voog said.

Sec-gen: IRL's positions are sustainable

Right-wing conservative parties are experiencing difficult times in the whole Europe, but the ideas of Estonia's Pro Patria and Res Publica Union (IRL) are sustainable, IRL's secretary general Kert Karus said commenting on party popularity ratings published on Friday, according to which IRL fell below the election threshold of 5 percent in April.

Karus told BNS that right-wing conservative parties are experiencing tough competition at the moment. At the same time the European sister parties of IRLare experiencing difficult times as extreme and populist positions are seeing success. «It will be brief because the society can't function in extremes,» he added.

«IRL's ideas and positions are sustainable. We want the Estonian people to have the freedom to realize themselves, for the economy to grow and through that the well-being of people to increase, so that families would feel safe and good living here,» Karus said.

Chair: Support of Estonian Greens boosted by others' hostility toward environment

Chairman of the Estonian Greens Zuleyxa Izmailova associates the party's popularity rise with the party electing a new chairman and other parties' unfriendly policy toward the environment.

Popularity of the Greens of Estonia rose 3 percentage points in April, results of a survey commissioned by BNS and the daily Postimees and carried out by pollster Kantar Emor show. In March the party was supported by 1.9 percent of respondents, but in April their support totaled 4.9 percent. With that the Greens surpassed the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union (IRL), a member of the government coalition, whose support fell from 6.3 percent to 4.7 percent on month.

«I definitely think that the rise of the Greens is connected to the chairman change,» said Izamilova who was elected chairman of the party at the end of April. She added that another reason may be that voters are tired of the other parties and are looking for a new force, or that the party's broad-based vision attracts people.

According to Izmailova, IRL's support might be declining because of the party's hostile policy toward the environment. Environmental issues have become very important in the world and Estonia, and parties who oppose that are no longer seen as trustworthy in voters' eyes.

Izamilova also pointed out the party's opposition to Rail Baltic and pulp factory as well as their fight against excess logging as possible reasons for the party's increased support.