Defence Elections Estonia

Kallas wins big in Estonian election

| 2023-03-06 2 min read

Kallas wins big in Estonian election

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas’s Reform Party (ER) secured both the most votes and most seats ever in a national election in the 1.3mn Baltic country on Sunday. 

Defence and Estonia’s inflation-related cost of living crisis were the main issues of the election campaign, which coincided with the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022.

The centre-right ER securing 37 of 101 seats, up 3 from 2019, can be interpreted as an endorsement of Kallas’s strongly pro-Ukraine stance, as well as her government sending the equivalent of 1% of Estonia’s GDP to support the war-torn country. 

Kallas and ER saw off the threat of the far-right, anti-immigration Conservative People’s Party of Estonia (EKRE), which came second with 17 seats, down 2 from 2019, with nearly all the votes counted.

Just behind EKRE was the Center Party (EK) with 16 seats, followed by liberal centrist newcomers Estonia 200 (E200) with 14, and junior coalition partners The Social Democrats (SDE) and the conservative Fatherland (Isamaa) parties, with 9 and 8 seats respectively. 

A total of 615,009 voters cast their ballot, 313,514 of them online, in the highest turnout since Estonia regained independence.

National Electoral Council Seat Results, 5 Match 2023 /Source: The Liberal & Radical Echo/Twitter

Kallas will now attempt to form a coalition and see off the possibility of a EKRE-EK alliance. 

“It seems that the voter has spoken. From what I gathered from the screen, we have done quite well for ourselves,” said Kallas, who also received a record 31,821 personal mandates.

Based on the results, it appears that ER could establish a coalition of 53 seats with EK, or form a 60-MP liberal coalition with E200 and the SDE.

Kallas said given her party’s clear victory, any new coalition should allocate ministerial positions in proportion to the weekend result.

“I want to thank all voters,” Kallas said, adding that “I thank you for your trust, I thank you for the opportunity to head the government for nearly two years now, and indeed for your votes.

“The voter’s expectation is for the Reform Party to take the lead in the new government: that much is certain. We have already discussed what our candidates have taken away from talking with voters, their expectations. We will have a board meeting tomorrow to talk about our options,” Kallas added.

Margus Tsahkna, a board member of E200, which passed the 5% threshold to enter Estonia’s 101-seat Parliament for the first time, said “we are the winners in any case as we will join the Riigikogu for what is a historical moment. Everything on top of the election threshold is brilliant.”

EKRE leader Martin Helme said on Sunday that he does not trust the online vote, and demanded a recount.