Clear victory for Prime Minister Kallas in parliamentary elections in Estonia

According to the Estonian Electoral Commission, turnout was 63.

Clear victory for Prime Minister Kallas in parliamentary elections in Estonia

According to the Estonian Electoral Commission, turnout was 63.5 percent of those entitled to vote. Prime Minister Kallas' reform party improved its result from four years ago (28.9 percent) and won 37 parliamentary seats - four more than in the last election in 2019.

To stay in power, Kallas' Reform Party will have to once again forge a coalition with one or more other parties in Tallinn's 101-seat unicameral parliament. According to figures from the electoral commission, the centre-left center party received 15.3 percent of the votes, while the liberal party Eesti 200 received 13.3 percent. It was followed by the Social Democratic Party with 9.3 percent and the right-wing conservative Isamaa with 8.2 percent of the vote.

The Reform Party currently governs in a government formed in July 2022 with Social Democrats and Isamaa. Before the final result is confirmed, the electoral commission must carry out another count on Monday night and finally a third on Tuesday.

The election was marked by the dispute over military aid to Ukraine in the war against the Russian invading troops. Kallas is a staunch supporter of the arms shipments, while the far-right Ekre party has spoken out against continuing them. Estonia's military aid to Ukraine is currently equivalent to more than one percent of gross domestic product. In terms of annual economic output, that is more than any other country.

Estonia and the other two Baltic states Lithuania and Latvia became both members of the European Union and NATO in 2004. They have been among Kiev's staunchest supporters since the start of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine.

Kallas expressed his delight at the election result on Monday night. "It's much better than we expected," she told reporters. Estonia is facing major reforms, among other things with a view to ecological conversion, but the country must also invest in its security. "Our aggressive neighbor has not disappeared and will not disappear, so we have to deal with it," she said, referring to Russia.

All other parties "with the exception of Ekre and maybe the center" would have chosen the same line with regard to Ukraine. "I therefore think that we can find common ground here," added Kallas, with a view to the upcoming coalition negotiations.

Mart Helme, one of Ekre's bosses, responded to the results with allegations of fraud. The election victory was "stolen" from his party. His party was ahead during the counting of the paper ballots, but the result turned around when the electronic votes were counted. A good 47 percent of voters cast their votes in this election by post or online.

Political scientist Rein Toomla assumes, however, that Ekre has been so weakened by the election results that the reform party can "easily ignore" them and form a coalition with other parties.

The Estonian President has 14 days after the general election to nominate a candidate for the post of Prime Minister. He then has another 14 days to appear before Parliament with a newly formed government for a vote of confidence.