Parties courting Estonians abroad ahead of national elections ({{commentsTotal}})

Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

Political parties have added focus on Estonian citizens living abroad, with over 70,000 Estonians eligible to vote currently living outside Estonia.

Reform Party Secretary General Martin Kukk told ETV they have used an Estonian-language newspaper in Sweden to reach Estonians living in Sweden, as well as social media.

The Conservative People's Party is more focused on the new generation of emigrants, opening a branch in Finland last year. Party deputy head Martin Helme said they traveled to Finland to speak to Estonians there very recently.

“The Internet is the means the Center Party is contacting people living abroad with. Another method is a few radio stations popular among Estonians in Finland. The Center Party has purchased ads there,” Priit Toobal, the Center Party's secretary general, said.

IRL has sent one member on an international tour, and has purchased ad space in Estonian-language press outside Estonia, as well as using social media. Illimar Leppik von Wiren said he has now traveled 18,000 kilometers, visiting Estonian communities in Germany, Belgium, Sweden, the United States, Canada and Finland.

The Free Party participated in an election debate in Toronto, although via Skype. Party Chairman Andres Herkel said Estonians living abroad should have their own election district as their problems should be heard better in Estonian politics.

The Social Democrats are the only party to run outdoor campaigns outside of Estonia. The party is running a campaign in Finland, at a time when outdoor political ads in Estonia are forbidden.

The Estonian Foreign Ministry said there are 72,000 Estonians abroad who are eligible to vote. Voting is possible in 40 Estonian representations around the world, but only 2,313 voted in embassies at the last national election in 2011. IRL has been the most popular party among Estonians living abroad, with the Reform Party in second.

Editor: J.M. Laats