Polls show it’s a horse race

  • 2011-02-16
  • From wire reports

REFORMATION: The Reform Party leads in the polls, but anything can happen between now and the elections, says Tonis Saarts.

TALLINN - Tartu University political scientist Rein Toomla said on national television that the calculations by the daily Eesti Paevaleht, that the currently governing Reform Party will receive 47 seats in the 101 seat Riigikogu, are realistic and that it is not impossible for them to get 51 seats, reports National Broadcasting. Eesti Paevaleht asked specialists to calculate, based on polling results from Faktum-Ariko, how many seats parties are likely to get in the next Riigikogu, preparing for elections on March 6. A polling of 500 people showed that 39 percent of respondents supported the Reform Party, which would mean 47 seats in the parliament; Center Party would get 28 seats; Pro Patria and Res Publica Union (PRU) 15 each, and the Social Democrats 11 seats.

Independent candidates, who would altogether collect 8 percent of votes, People’s Union with 2 percent, and Greens with 0.4 percent would be left out of the parliament.
“In principle it isn’t impossible for it [Reform Party] to get even 51 seats with that 39 percent,” said Toomla, adding that the two difficult things to forecast are how many votes would be “lost,” i.e. given for lists or independent candidates who don’t get to the parliament, and second, how many seats would be distributed with compensation mandates.
Tallinn University political scientist Tonis Saarts said that with nearly a month until the elections, a lot can change. “In Estonia around 15 percent of voters make their decision in the last week or at the polling box and their votes are never distributed evenly between parties,” said Saarts.

He said that who the specific candidates are affects results, since many can be more respected in society than their party, and thus they can bring more votes to the party than polls indicate.
Saarts said that for development of democracy it would not be good if one party won nearly 50 percent, or more, of the seats. He added that in that case all we can hope for is that the winning party would not use its position to secure its power further.
The Reform Party secretary general, Kristen Michal, however, said that the results of a fresh poll commissioned by them shows just a 2 percent lead for the Reform Party over the Center Party. “In reality the gap between the Reform Party and Center Party is very small and voters will decide if Andrus Ansip or Edgar Savisaar will be the prime minister – the situation is very even,” said Michal.