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Estonia’s Opposition Social Democrats Gain Support on Strike

March 26 (Bloomberg) -- Estonia’s opposition Social Democrats gained record public support in an opinion survey this month to surpass the ruling Reform Party after the widest industrial action in two decades.

The Social Democrats were backed by 30 percent of 818 respondents, compared with 22 percent last month, according to a poll by TNS Emor e-mailed today by the Baltic News Service, which commissioned it. The survey was held Feb. 29 to March 21 and it gave no margin of error.

The Reform Party of Prime Minister Andrus Ansip received the backing of 29 percent, one percentage point higher than in February, while support for the junior coalition partner Isamaa ja Res Publica Liit declined to 12 percent, the lowest in at least 25 months.

“The rise of the Social Democrats is most likely a consequence of the strikes and protests in the beginning of March which boosted overall support for opposition parties,” Aivar Voog, a TNS Emor researcher, said in a comment.

The combined support of the Social Democrats, led by the former Defense Minister Sven Mikser, and the other opposition group, the Center Party, rose 5 percentage points to 53 percent, and exceeded support for government parties for the third month, Voog said.

Estonia endured its biggest industrial action since regaining independence in 1991 earlier this month, when blue-collar workers supported a three-day nationwide strike by teachers over wages. Next parliamentary elections are due in March 2015, while municipal councils will be elected next October.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ott Ummelas in Tallinn at oummelas@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net

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