Estonia 200 given credit of trust

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Kristina Kallas.

PHOTO: Erik Prozes

Pollster Kantar Emor included the Estonia 200 political movement in its May party popularity poll ordered by Postimees and BNS. The credit of trust the movement was given clearly shows room for a new political force in Estonia.

Supporters of parties have not changed their preferences much in May. The poll shows the Reform Party in the lead, having gained 2 points to land on 32 percent. The ruling Center Party came in second with 21 percent.

“Right now, those two parties that sport strong brands are hardly affected by a new political movement that could potentially become a party,” said survey expert Aivar Voog.

The Social Democrat Party (SDE) has moved up from 10.6 percent in April to 11.9 percent in May. Voog said that it is too early to say whether Jevgeni Ossinovski’s resignation as minister can turn the party’s rating around. “It has not damaged the party’s rating, while a single point gained is not statistically relevant either,” the expert explained.

The Conservative People’s Party (EKRE) that has been successful in finding new supporters this year dropped from 19 percent to 16.7 percent in May. “Their rating is so high that it is no longer made up exclusively of ideological supporters. EKRE have become popular, they are so prominent that they have involved voters who base their decisions on short-term popularity,” Voog said.

Estonia 200, that stepped onto the stage in the May 3 issue of Postimees, managed to land on 6 percent, ahead of the Free Party and IRL. It remains unclear whether the movement will mature into a political party.

Voog said that the credit of trust handed to Estonia 200 is substantial. “The result reflects citizens’ yearning for a new party. People who voted for Estonia 200 have very probably recently voted for the Free Party, Estonian Greens, or to a lesser extent EKRE,” he said.

“A 6-percent rating for Estonia 200 shows that there is quite a strong demand for a new political force,” said Tallinn University political scientist Tõnis Saarts.

“If a mere announcement that there is a plan for a new movement or party is enough to engage more potential supporters than some parliament parties, it should be a serious wake-up call for current parties,” he added.

Voog recalled how Res Publica’s rating that was 10 percent after the party’s founding congress in late 2001 fell to 6 percent the very next month.

Estonia 200 was the preference of young men and residents of rural areas. Voog described the voter group as the fastest to change its mind and one that keeps an eye on the media.

Saarts said that support for Estonia 200 could remain around the election threshold of 5 percent once the initial excitement dies down. “Potential support in society for their rather technocratic and narrow program cannot be too great,” he explained.

Support for the Free Party – down from 5.8 percent in April to 4 percent in May – is believed to be more stable. It is believed the exit of recent chairman Artur Talvik had an effect.

“Looking at the ratings of IRL and the Free Party in the context of the appearance of Estonia 200, it is probable that it poses the greatest threat to the Free Party as dissatisfied voters looking for something new will gravitate toward the new movement,” Saarts offered.

The summary rating of the coalition remains below 40 percent for the fifth consecutive month. The coalition is the first choice of non-Estonians, citizens of Tallinn, women, and pensioners.

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