Voters in Estonia have elected a new parliament with almost complete results suggesting a big win for the centre-right Reform Party of Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, one of Europe’s most outspoken supporters of Ukraine.
With 99 percent of ballots counted, Kallas’s liberal group was at 31.6 percent, followed by the far-right eurosceptic EKRE party at 16.1 percent, reflecting concerns among some voters over the rising cost of living in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Centre Party, traditionally favoured by Estonia’s sizable ethnic-Russian minority, was at 14.7 percent.
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“This result, which is not final yet, will give us a strong mandate to put together a good government,” the 45-year-old Kallas told her party colleagues and jubilant supporters at a hotel in the Baltic nation’s capital, Tallinn.
Preliminary results suggested six parties passed the 5 percent threshold of support needed to enter the 101-seat parliament, or Riigikogu, including newcomer Eesti 200, a liberal centrist party. Voter turnout was 63.7 percent, little changed from the previous election.
Estonia, a country of 1.3 million people on Russia’s northwestern border, has been one of Kyiv’s most vocal supporters since Moscow invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Its military assistance to Ukraine amounts to more than one percent of gross domestic product (GDP) — the biggest contribution of any country relative to the size of its economy.
Kallas said any government she formed would keep calling for pressure on Russia.
“We … have to invest in our security, our aggressive neighbour has not vanished and will not vanish, so we have to work with that”, she told reporters.
Reform is a centre-right liberal party that appeals to business owners and young professionals.
It has promised to raise military spending to at least three percent of GDP and ease taxes on business. It also wants to pass a law approving same-sex civil partnerships.
The latest results will give the Reform Party 37 seats in the legislature, and Kallas will need junior partners to form a coalition with a comfortable majority to govern.
Estonia broke away from the Soviet Union in 1991 and is a member of NATO and the European Union.