Estonia’s ruling Reform party leads election count

Estonia’s ruling Reform party leads election count
"It seems that the voters have spoken," said Prime Minister Kaja Kallas. / bne IntelliNews
By Linas Jegelevicius in Vilnius March 6, 2023

Estonia's ruling Reform Party held a big lead over the far right Estonian Conservative People's Party (EKRE) in the general elections on Sunday, March 5, according to the preliminary count of e-votes from all Estonian regions and paper ballots cast at 397 out of the country's 405 polling precincts. 

Reform's vote tally stood at 184,112, representing 31.9% of the votes counted by 11:27 p.m, reported BNS, a Baltic newswire.

The runner-up was EKRE with 91,385 votes or 15.8%, the Centre Party was third with 83,916 votes or 14.5% and Estonia 200 fourth with 78,601 votes or 13.6%.

The Social Democratic Party (SDE) and Isamaa, junior partners to Reform in the outgoing government coalition, were in places five and six with respectively 51,186 votes or 9.4% and 47,761 votes or 8.3%.

Turnout was 63.7%, with 51% of votes cast over the internet.

With this distribution of votes, the Reform Party would win 38 seats in the Riigikogu, the Estonian parliament, EKRE 17, the Centre Party 15, Estonia 200 14, SDE 9 and Isamaa 8 seats.

"It seems that the voters have spoken. From what I gathered from the screen, we did quite well for ourselves," Kaja Kallas, the country’s PM and chairwoman of the party, said after the results were announced.

"I want to thank all voters. 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. We are very grateful for your assessment of our work. All our candidates who have done a brilliant job, brought home all these votes... It is teamwork, no one can do it alone," she said.

Some of the polls had suggested that EKRE was catching up with the ruling liberal Reform Party, with just hours to go before the general election.

Martin Helme’s EKRE is the strongest radical right-wing party in the three Baltic states and has close affinities with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s authoritarian Fidesz Party. In the European Parliament it sits in the Identity and Democracy political group with France’s National Rally, Germany’s AFD and Italy’s Lega.

In the wake of the elections, Martin Helme has said that he does not trust the e-vote result, and wants a recount.

Martin Helme's father, Mart Helme, a leading politician in the party , said at the party's election party late on Sunday evening that EKRE did everything honestly, unlike those who stole victory from them, the daily Postimees writes.

"We have the power and the willingness not to throw in the towel. Under no circumstances should you allow yourself to become depressed, as though we have done something wrong. We did nothing wrong. We did everything right and honestly, unlike those who stole our well-deserved victory," Helme said.

"We will not leave it like this. We knew this in advance. Again, we will go home from here full of spirit and determination to eliminate injustice and establish justice. This journey will be difficult, it will not be easy," Helme said.

"But believe me: we will win! Justice is on our side and as we saw with paper ballots before the e-votes came, people were on our side. Now we have to think about how we will establish justice together with the people," he added, BNS reported.