Prominent Center Party politician Jüri Ratas, tipped by many to take a place in the European Parliament but finishing disappointingly, said after election results were released that the party is losing ethnic Estonian voters.
“The results were surprising for the Center Party. If the party continues on the current course, the strong marginalization of the party will continue,” Ratas told uudised.err.ee today.
Commenting on party leader Edgar Savisaar's vote haul, which was also down from its usual levels, Ratas said it is down to the fact that Savisaar said before the elections he will not become a MEP. Savisaar collected 18,527 votes, less than half compared to the 2013 local elections, just seven months previously.
“We have done much so that voters in Estonia would not vote for us,” Center Party MP Aivar Riisalu said, adding that differences on the Ukraine issue in the party have played a big part. He said eight years in (Parliament) opposition means "voters do not trust us anymore."
Political scientist Kristjan Vassil said that the vote totals for individual Center Party members shows which wing of the party is supported best, adding that the party did well in Ida-Viru County. It won some 60 percent of the votes there.
Unless she declines, Center Party MP Yana Toom will be Estonia's first ethnic Russian MEP as she won the highest number of votes for her party (25,263). Savisaar was second in the final party list, followed by another ethnic Russian, Mihhail Stalnuhhin (11,505 votes), who was the only MP to vote against a parliamentary resolution supporting Ukrainian territorial integrity in March.
Ratas was fourth (8,538 votes), followed by Kadri Simson (5,586) and Aivar Riisalu (1,117).
Ratas is a former mayor of Tallinn and has been a Parliamentary leader.