The opposition centre-right Reform Party, which ran a campaign promising to lower taxes, has won Estonia’s general election, beating the ruling Centre Party.
Reform, led by former MEP Kaja Kallas (pictured above), took just under 29 per cent of the vote and 34 seats in the 101-seat parliament. The Centre Party of Prime Minister Juri Ratas took 23.1 per cent of the vote and 26 seats.
“Now the real work begins to put together the government and start running the country with common sense,” Ms Kallas told Estonian public broadcaster ETV/ERR.
The nationalist, far-right Estonian Conservative People’s Party, also known as EKRE, was running third with 17.8 per cent and 19 seats – more than doubling its support, while two other parties in the governing coalition, the Social Democrats and Isamaa, took 10.2 per cent and 11.7 per cent of the vote respectively.
No other parties made the five per cent threshold required to take seats in parliament.
Kristi Raik, director of the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute, said the jump in support for EKRE mirrored the trend in other European countries where populist parties have exploited a fear of migration, despite there being very little in Estonia. “They will be this kind of noisy opposition. It’s going to make life more difficult for the government with the debate becoming more polarised on different issues. But it’s difficult to see that they have an impact on policymaking,” she said.
Turnout in the election was 63.1 per cent of eligible voters, with 39.3 per cent voting online in the week leading up to the election, held on March 3.