Presidential election: All eyes on the second ballot round
With the presidential election in the electoral college about to start, everything hinges on the question who of the five candidates will make it to the second ballot round.
The election starts today Saturday at 12:00 p.m. Candidates nominated for the first of two voting rounds are Allar Jõks for the Free Party and IRL, Siim Kallas for the Reform Party, Mailis Reps for the Center Party, independent candidate Marina Kaljurand, and Mart Helme for the Estonian Conservative People’s party.
The second round is a runoff between the two strongest candidates of the first.
The electoral college: Who supports who is anything but clear
The electoral college is made up of the 101 members of the Riigikogu, as well as 234 appointed representatives of Estonia’s municipalities and city districts.
Over the past few weeks, parties as well as the media have been speculating how much support each of the candidates can hope for.
All five candidates spent a lot of time campaigning and meeting representatives of the municipalities and city districts. However, the list of the electors as published by the National Electoral Committee makes it clear that only 58% of them are mayors, at which most of the campaign efforts were directed.
This isn’t the only blind spot in the ongoing assessment of candidates’ chances to get elected. The Reform Party, with some 68 electors the largest group in the college, will likely be split between Siim Kallas and Marina Kaljurand, and the Social Democrats are leaving it to their electors to decide who to support.
It all hinges on the second ballot round
Political observer Tõnis Saarts of Tallinn University told ERR that in his assessment, Siim Kallas and Marina Kaljurand had the best chances of making it to the second round of Saturday’s election.
At this point, the surveys of all three of Estonia’s main media houses point to this, with electors’ responses suggesting a neck-and-neck race between Kallas and Kaljurand.
At the same time, both Allar Jõks and Mailis Reps’ chances of making it to the second round were intact, Saarts said.
According to ERR’s own survey of electors, Kallas has the support of 68, Kaljurand that of 69 electors, followed by Reps with 61 and Jõks with 58. For EKRE’s Mart Helme, the survey brought out just ten supporters.
Observers as well as the candidates’ teams expect an additional 10-15 votes per candidate to be a realistic expectation for the first ballot round, which would then set the threshold to get into the second round at around 80-85 votes.
Only the two most successful candidates of the first round make it into the second. This means that at this point, the electors’ second choice candidates matter. According to ERR’s survey conducted earlier this week, Marina Kaljurand is the second choice of 77 electors, Mailis Reps that of 46 electors, and Kallas the second choice of 37 electors.
Overall, the candidate with the most support both as the first and second choice of electors is Marina Kaljurand. Still, the outcome of the first voting round is hard to predict. None of the parties can expect its members to toe the line, which has become ever some much more evident with two of hard-right EKRE’s electors siding with Kaljurand.