EKRE rating falls to lowest in year

Urmas Jaagant
, reporter
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Photo: Janar Ala

Support for the Conservative People’s Party (EKRE), that has largely maintained a steady upward climb until now, fell to its lowest level in the past year in October. The online poll ordered by Eesti Meedia and carried out by Kantar Emor puts support for the party at 16 percent, down from 20 percent in September and even more in July-August.

Survey expert Aivar Voog said that EKRE has mainly lost elderly supporters, including pensioners – people who threw their lot in with the conservatives as recently as the beginning of summer. “EKRE used to command the votes of a relatively narrow sociodemographic group until the elderly started supporting the party in early summer. They were likely attracted by the idea of putting Estonia first,” Voog said.

Now, the national conservatives are sending mixed messages – people join the party only to leave it again immediately – and this, Voog believes, comes off as too radical for the elderly. While a party that aims to put Estonia first could have broad-based support, very narrowly defined values are keeping the party from going mainstream,” the expert said.

The largest group behind father and son Mart and Martin Helme’s party is still Estonian men between the ages of 35 and 49. It is noteworthy that EKRE is the second most popular party among self-employed people, after the Reform Party.

Little has changed at the top as both the Reform Party and Center Party managed to attract marginally more supporters compared to September. Opposition leader the Reform Party had 28 percent of the potential vote in October, while the Center Party had 25 percent.

“Support for Center has been gradually growing since May,” Voog said. “The party has mainly gained Estonian supporters, while the support of non-Estonian-speakers is becoming unstable.” Center is the first choice of 57 percent of non-Estonians, and while that figure is still miles ahead of the competition, it also falls short of 80 percent the party has enjoyed in the past. Center had the vote of 64 percent of non-Estonian-speakers in September.

Voog said that the trend of losing Russian-speaking supporters is largely the effect of Jüri Ratas’ actions. “The party concentrates more on the Estonian voter compared to the days of Edgar Savisaar,” he found.

It needs to be said that because Estonian voters outnumber non-Estonian-speakers four to one, Center’s increase in Estonian voters – from 10 percent to 20 percent – constitutes a far greater gain than what it has lost in terms of Russian-speakers.

The rating of the Social Democrat Party (SDE) reached 14 percent in October, up from 10 percent at the beginning of the year and matching its June result.

Support for minority coalition partner Pro Patria has been hovering around 5 percent since July. The Estonian Greens were on 4 percent in October.

Estonia 200, that is formally still not a party, merited the support of 5 percent of people in October, up from 4 percent in September but down from 6 percent in May when the movement published its political manifesto.

The Free Party’s rating was around 3-4 percent coming up to October, reaching the election threshold of 5 percent at the start of the year. Support fell to just 2 percent in October. “The last time the party’s rating was this poor was when it first appeared in December of 2014,” Voog recalled.

Support for the coalition of the Center Party, SDE and Pro Patria has started to climb. While the coalition had the support of fewer than 40 percent of people in the first half-year, the three parties now have 44 percent of the potential vote between them.

The results do not reflect the input of people who chose “cannot say” as their answer in terms of who they support. That is why results can be compared to those of Riigikogu elections. The maximum statistical error is 2.9 percent.