Estonian PM’s party wins general election

An election poster featuring Prime Minister Kaja Kallas of the Reform Party is seen in Viimsi, Estonia on March 5, 2023 during parliamentary elections. —AFP

TALLINN: Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas’s centre-right Reform Party won the general election by a large margin Sunday, scoring 31.6 percent against 16 percent for the far-right EKRE, according to nearly complete results.

In order to stay in power, Reform will again have to form a coalition with one or more of the parties that entered the Baltic state’s 101-seat parliament.

The Centre Party secured 14.7 percent of the ballot, Estonia 200 got 13.5 percent, while the Social Democrats received 9.4 percent and the Isamaa (Fatherland) party 8.3 percent.

“This is much better than we expected,” Kallas told reporters. “We have ruled out a coalition with EKRE and I stand by my words.”

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, ease taxes on business and wants to pass a law approving same-sex civil partnerships.

Kallas told AFP in a recent interview: “We support an open, friendly, Western-minded, European, smart country.”

“My biggest competitor thinks that we shouldn’t help Ukraine, we shouldn’t support Ukraine, we should only look for our self-interest,” she said, referring to the far-right EKRE.

The country of 1.3 million people, which borders Russia and is a member of both the European Union and NATO, has led international calls over the past year for more military aid to help Ukraine fight off Moscow’s invasion.

Estonia’s military assistance to Ukraine amounts to more than one percent of GDP — the biggest contribution of any country relative to the size of its economy.

Speaking of aid to Ukraine, Kallas said on Sunday: “I think with such a strong mandate this will not change.”

“Other parties — except EKRE and maybe Centre — have chosen the same line. So I think we can find common ground here,” she added.

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