Campaign Briefs: Free Rides Promised for Viljandi, Center Dominates Media Spotlight, Candidate Statistics
In the run-up to next month's local government elections, IRL has promised to waive public transport fares in Viljandi and the surrounding municipality if chosen to lead there, but the Center Party has also laid claim to the idea.
“The state pays 1.4 million euros annually for public transport in Viljandi County, with the rest made up by municipalities and the 800,000-euro revenue from ticket sales. A local government's budget is there to solve the problems of its residents, and we can decide whether we construct another sports hall in a forest or use the funds for public transport,” said IRL candidate Vello Lips.
The Center Party's candidate for the mayor of Viljandi, Helmut Hallemaa, said he is happy that others are backing the same plan that his party had.
The Social Democrats and the Reform Party have remained more skeptical about the idea, voicing financial concerns.
Viljandi City is currently surrounded by a number of municipalities, which will all merge after the local elections.
With less than two months until the vote, the Center Party is dominating the media spotlight.
A monthly study commissioned by ERR and conducted by the Meedius monitoring company found that the number of mentions of political parties in the printed press and online news media had increased by 60 percent in August compared with July, but the increase follows an overall drop in July.
The Center Party was mentioned 588 times, beating the Reform Party, which received 541 mentions.
IRL came third with 443, followed by the Social Democrats with 397.
According to figures released by the National Electoral Committee, 14,818 candidates have been registered for the country's local elections. The number divides into 102 independent candidates, 632 party lists and 292 election coalitions.
Those numbers represent a small decline compared to the previous local elections in 2009, when 15,322 people, including 159 independent candidates, 588 party lists and 324 election coalitions, participated.
The Center Party has registered candidate lists for 192 municipalities, out of a possible 215, followed by IRL (174), the Reform Party (156) and the Social Democrats (96).
Though there are in fact 226 municipalities in the country, mergers being carried out in conjunction with the elections will reduce that number by 11.
In 2009, the Center Party took part in 204 local elections, the Reform Party in 134, IRL in 132 and the Social Democrats in 70.
The Center Party picked up 31.5 percent of the votes nation-wide last time, with the Reform Party claiming 16.7 percent, IRL 13.9 and the Social Democrats 7.5 percent.