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Local elections in Estonia bring native coalitions to the fore

Local elections in Estonia bring native coalitions to the fore

Center lost its absolute majority in Tallinn but its mayor Mihhail Kõlvart remains Estonia’s most popular politician

The left-leaning Center Party, which rules Estonia in coalition with the centre-right, pro-business Reform party, and local electoral alliances have gained the two largest, and almost equal, shares of the vote in the 2021 local elections, according to the final results announced on Sunday night.

Some sing, some cry

Election results can hardly bring joy to the two largest parties, however, as both Center and Reform lost votes compared to the last election. The Social Democrats (SDE) also underperformed, with their result downsliding twofold, from 10.4 percent to 5 percent, public broadcaster ERR reported.

Moreover, Center (with 45.4 percent of the vote ensuring 38 seats on the city council) lost its absolute majority in Tallinn for the first time in over 15 years and will now need to find coalition partners to govern the capital. In spite of that, Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) increased his personal mandate with 27,737 votes cast in his favour, remaining the most popular politician in Estonia.

Reform continues to be the biggest party in Tartu, having won 36.8 percent of the vote, thus securing 19 seats in the council. 

In Paide, the electoral alliance "Paide - Inimeste linn" won seven seats on the 23-member council. Isamaa followed with four seats and EKRE, Reform, the electoral alliance "UUS Paide" and Center were given three each.

Isamaa won nine of the 21 seats available in Rakvere, followed by EKRE and Center with four each, SDE with two, and Reform and Eesti 200 with one each. 

EKRE and Eesti 200 on the rise

The Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) almost doubled its vote share from 6.7 percent in 2017 to 13.2 percent. The right-wing populist party also won in Pärnu where it grabbed 24.1 percent of the vote and will get 10 seats on the council.

Eesti 200, a liberal centrist party competing in local elections for the first time, gained 6 percent of the vote.

Nationwide results

This is the breakdown of results on a national scale:

  • Center: 24.4 percent (142,596 votes)
  • Electoral coalitions: 24.3 percent (141,861)
  • Reform: 17.3 percent (101,295)
  • EKRE: 13.2 percent (77,236)
  • Isamaa: 8.4 percent (48,848)
  • Eesti 200: 6.0 percent (35,317)
  • SDE: 5.0 percent (29,082)
  • Greens: 1.1 percent (6,307)
  • Independent candidates: 0.3 percent (1,762)
  • TULE: 0.0 percent (278)

Election promises

During the pre-election campaign, political parties wooed voters with promises such as extended tramlines, free kindergarten places and new bicycle networks, comments ERR. The Center Party, for example, has vowed to maintain non-Estonian schools, so that parents, especially from the Russian-speaking minority, can choose education based on their family's needs. The party also promises free kindergarten places for children of Tallinn residents.

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