Frequently Asked Questions About European Elections in Estonia
The vital facts about the election to European Parliament, which will be held on Estonia on May 25, along with earlier e-voting and advance voting.
Who is eligible to vote?
EU citizens age 18 and up. That includes citizens living in an EU country other than their country of origin. Those EU citizens have until Friday to register as voters in Estonia at the Ministry of the Interior.
Who can run?
EU citizens 21 and over have the right to vote and stand as candidates in one country per election. In 2012, the European Parliament approved a proposal by the European Commission to simplify the procedure for allowing non-national EU citizens to stand as candidates in the European Parliament elections.
The reform aims to encourage participation in European elections both as voters as well as candidates, and “in particular to encourage the integration of non-national citizens of the Union”.
Can I still register as a candidate in Estonia?
You'll have to wait until 2019. The deadline for registering candidates in Estonia passed on April 10. All candidates were registered as of April 15.
How many candidates are there from Estonia?
Eight out of the nine political parties registered in Estonia submitted their documents for the elections. In total, 72 party candidates and 16 independent candidates were registered.
I heard Berlusconi didn't end up running? Are there any foreign candidates?
No, probably to the dismay of lawyers and tabloids everywhere, the legally extremely complex Berlusconi-in-Estonia scenario never went ahead.
There are three foreign EU citizens: British citizen Abdul Turay (Social Democrats), Dutch citizen Joeri Wiersma (independent), and British citizen Lance Gareth Edward Boxall (independent).
Turay and Wiersma I've seen on ERR. But Boxall?
Originally from London, he is a pro-Europe Briton who works for the European Commission on smart cities projects and is running on an very ICT-specific platform. He will appear at a digital-themed debate in Viljandi in mid-May
Does it cost anything to run for European Parliament in Estonia?
Even if you're planning to spend no money on a campaign, there's still the matter of the deposit. In Estonia, it comes to 1,775 euros (equivalent to five monthly minimum salaries), which will be reimbursed if the candidate gains more than 5 percent of the national vote. For comparison, it costs £5000 in the UK and it's reimbursable at 2.5 percent of the regional vote.
How many MEPs from Estonia?
But Estonia's population is 1.3 million, Malta is less than half that size and also has six. I mean, Latvia with its 2 million has more seats than Estonia.
The allocation of seats follows the principle of "degressive proportionality," with a minimum threshold of six members per member state. Estonia, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta have the minimum allocation in the next EP. No member state can have more than 96 seats.
The Lisbon Treaty increased the number of seats from 736 to 751, with 12 states losing one seat to make room for MEPs from Croatia, which joined the EU in 2013.
A table on the allocation of seats can be viewed here.
How will the seats be divided between Estonian parties and candidates?
Like in most countries, there's a single national constituency. The mandates in Estonia are divided according to the D'Hondt method.
That's getting into higher math, but suffice it to say that since the four larger political parties dwarf their smaller competitors, the two larger parties would get two seats each and two smaller ones get one each.
Except, of course, for the "Tarand effect" - in Estonia, MEP Indrek Tarand pulled down enough votes as a lone candidate in 2009 to win office single-handedly. He's expected to repeat that feat this time, meaning that there will be only five seats for the four parties to divvy up.
In 2009, the seat went to the candidate at the top of the list, now the candidate with the largest number of votes will become an MEP. If the top candidate decides to give up his or her seat, it will go to the candidate with the second largest number of votes.
So who's leading (as of April 22)?
According to a recent poll, IRL leads narrowly with 17 percent. But that doesn't square with how people would vote if the domestic general elections were held today - the Social Democrats have a lead there.
IRL's lead is slim, and it's been conjectured that they may be punished by their voters for letting the border treaty with Russia through. Very often, European elections are used by voters to punish sitting governments, but IRL has already been kicked out of the government.
In any case, it will be interesting to watch which Estonian party picks up that second seat.
What is turnout expected to be?
Turnout in the EU elections has been declining, standing at 43 percent in 2009. In Estonia's last election in 2009, turnout was 43.9 percent, roughly 17 percentage points higher than in the election in 2004. The most recent ERR/TNS Emor poll found that 37 percent of eligible voters were definitely planning to vote.
When and where will voting take place?
Voting will be on May 25, with there being just one national electoral district. Polling stations will be open from 9:00 to 20:00.
Electronic voting will begin at 9:00 on May 15 and will be open around the clock until 18:00 on May 21.
Advance polls in county centers will take place on May 15-18 and advance polls in all polling station will take place on May 19-21, from 12:00 until 20:00.
When will results come in?
Preliminary election results will be published after the voting has ended in all EU member states, at 23:00.
The Estonian Electoral Committee will confirm the election results by June 14 and the elected candidates have 10 days to notify the committee whether they intend to take up their post in the European Parliament.
Political parties and individual candidates must submit their campaign reports by June 25 - a month from election day.