Kaljurand news delivers SDE ratings boost

Sander Punamäe
, reporter
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Photo: Sander Ilvest

As the popularity of the Free Party continues to wane, the Social Democrat Party is on its way to restoring its recent rating, the latest poll ordered by Postimees and BNS and carried out by Kantar Emor reveals.

The Reform Party remains firmly in the lead, taking a third of the vote in June (32 percent), followed by the ruling Center Party on 23 percent. Both leading forces remain where they have been in the first six months of the year: Reform between 30-34 percent and Center between 21-24 percent.

Were elections to take place tomorrow, it would be the Conservative People’s Party (EKRE) in third place (17 percent in June) the rating for which has hovered around 17-19 percent in the first half-year. Survey expert at the pollster Aivar Voog said that EKRE’s rise that began late last year has stabilized and materialized in a secure third place.

The social democrats find themselves in fourth place (14 percent) 259 days before elections having improved on their rating for the second consecutive month. “If they can manage to gain another point, we might be talking about the party restoring its former position,” Voog said in May.

Chairman Jevgeni Ossinovski stepping down as minister seems to be working for the party as SDE is homing in on pre-slump levels of support. Voog said that one of the reasons for SDE’s recovering rating is the decision of 2016 presidential candidate Marina Kaljurand to join the party.

Kaljurand was reluctant to own up to the role of joker. “I’m glad if my decision to join the social democrats delivered a boost; however, I do not really believe a single person can have such an effect on ratings,” she said.

Kaljurand believes SDE’s rating is climbing courtesy of the big picture so to speak. “The economy has developed well enough for us to stand for people who need protection and support. Society feels solidarity and the need for social justice,” she said.

Support for the Free Party, Pro Patria, and the Estonian Greens is hovering around the election threshold of 5 percent. Voog said a month ago that the emergence of new political movement Estonia 200 first and foremost poses a threat to the Free Party as dissatisfied voters looking for something new will likely prefer the former and the Free Party as a potential protest force will be forgotten.

“We included the Estonia 200 movement in the list of parties in May to gauge citizens’ expectations of the new force. We did not include them in June as they have not registered as a party yet,” he explained.

Taking Estonia 200 out of the poll did nothing to boost the Free Party’s rating that hit a record low of 3 percent in June.

Chairman Andres Herkel said that polls suggest the party might miss the election threshold in 2019. “Activities that have followed our general meeting have not manifested yet,” he reasoned.

Herkel believes that results reflected last month’s poor negative media presence following the leaving of former chairman Artur Talvik and the emergence of Estonia 200.

Political scientist Tõnis Saarts said in May that the Free Party making it to the Riigikogu after the 2019 elections would be a political curiosity worthy of studying.

Herkel admitted the Free Party has made mistakes but said they have been communicative as opposed to fundamental. “We have been very good when it comes to our work in the Riigikogu and shaping our program; however, something is wrong in a situation where people cannot see that,” he said.

The former Pro Patria and Res Publica Union, now simply Pro Patria, has managed to attract new voters in June while the true effect of the party’s name change will become clear at the end of summer, Voog said.