Reform Hopes Soc Dems Will Draw Off Some Russian Votes ({{commentsTotal}})

Martin Kukk
Martin Kukk Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

Reform Party Secretary General Martin Kukk says that success at ending the Center Party's hegemony in Tallinn hinges on whether their own party's Estonian-speaking voters and the Social Democrats' Russophone voters turn out at the polls in October.

"The results of the Tallinn vote [at local elections] depend largely on whether our Estonian-language voters will come out to vote or whether the Center Party's own voters will remain on top," Martin Kukk told uudised.err.ee.

Reform is also counting on the Social Democrats to take away some of the Center Party's traditional support among the Russian-speaking population. The Social Democrats, who have taken a softer line on nation-state issues, absorbed the  Russian Party in Estonia last year, and one of their young stars, MP Jevgeni Ossinovski, has an ethnic Russian background.

"I know they are hoping to get much closer to Russian voters in the months ahead," said Kukk. "And the poll results show that across Estonia, the rise in the Social Democrats' popularity has happened thanks to support from Russian-speaking voters."

"If our Estonian voters come out actively to the polls and the Social Dems' main efforts in getting closer to Russian voters succeed, Tallinn will have a new city government in the autumn and there will be only static on the Tallinn TV," Kukk said, referring to the municipally funded station criticized by the Tallinn opposition.

The latest poll from Emor shows a massive lead for Center and its mayoral candidate, incumbent Edgar Savisaar - 46 percent for Center compared with 14 percent for IRL, 13 percent for Reform and 9 percent for the Social Dems.