May 24. 2024. 5:59

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Estonia gears up for elections amid Russian invasion fears


Estonian voters are gearing up for elections due in two weeks, but there are fears the country could be at risk due to a large Russian-speaking minority and shared borders with Russia.

Polls suggest that the liberal Reform Party (Renew Europe Group in the EU Parliament) of Prime Minister and European Council member Kaja Kallas will defend its position as the largest party with about 30% (in the 2019 election, this was at 29%).

Kallas, a firm supporter of the Ukrainian government, is the first woman to hold the office of the Estonian head of government. Her father, Siim, was prime minister from 2002 to 2003 and is the founder of the Reform Party.

The current government under Kallas is set to, despite her own party’s historically strong performance, lose the majority in parliament due to the weakness of her two coalition partners: the social democrats (S&D Group in the EU Parliament) are polling at 8% (−2 points compared to 2019), and the centre-right Isamaa (EPP) is polling at 7%, four points below their previous result.

The right-wing opposition party EKRE (Identity and Democracy Group in the EU Parliament) is polling on average at 20%, two points above their 2019 result. While this would be EKRE’s best election so far, the party has been tumbling in polls in recent weeks.

The Centre Party (Renew Europe Group in the EU Parliament), which continues to capture most of the Russophone vote, is polling at about 18%, which is not only five points below their previous election result but below all results the Centre Party has received in national parliamentary elections in the 21st century.

The liberal Estonia 200 party is polling at 12%, making it likely that the party will enter the national parliament for the first time after failing to cross the 5% threshold in 2019 with 4.4%.

Parties have been flexible in Estonia regarding coalitions, making it difficult to predict which government is most likely to emerge from this setup.

A recent Kantar Emor poll for the public broadcaster ERR found that Kallas remains the preferred prime ministerial candidate in the country, with 37.3% support. 20.5% would vote for Centre Party candidate and former Prime Minister Jüri Ratas. EKRE party candidate Martin Helme would receive 13.6% of the vote.

(Tobias Gerhard Schminke | Europe Elects)