Over 130 electoral groups rival main parties ahead of October's local polls

Official ballot box.
Official ballot box. Source: Erik Peinar/Riigikogu office

Well over a 100 electoral alliances are registered nationwide and ahead of the October local elections, including two in the capital, as of Thursday's filing deadline. Such groups are peculiar to Estonia's local elections and don't appear at its Riigikogu and European polls, often relate to a particular municipality, and provide an alternative to the mainstream, national parties.

Voting services manager at the state electoral committee Arne Koitmäe told ERR that "At this precise moment, the exact number of electoral alliances is unknown, but there are over 130 of them logged in the election information system."

"I would single out Tallinn, where two electoral alliances have been presented," he continued.

One of these has a Russian name, "Narodny soyuz" (Eng: "People's Union") and the other is entitled "Vaba Eesti eest" (Eng: "Freedom for Estonia").

At the local level, such groups often prove more successful than the mainstream parties.

In the 2017 local elections, 26.8 percent of the popular vote went on electoral alliances (156,003), compared with 27.3 percent for the Center Party nationwide.

There were, however, more alliances registered (over 160) that time, with six featuring in Tallinn alone.

One of the latter was set up by former Tallinn mayor and Center Party co-founder Edgar Savisaar, who ended up getting the alliance's single seat at the 79-member Tallinn city council chambers.

Technicalities such as an insufficient number of members or a lack of a signed agreement may see some electoral blocs missing out on getting registered, however, Arne Koitmäe said.

Thursday was the last day of submission for registration for electoral alliances, who must now nominate their candidates.

Polling day is October 17, with a six-day advance voting period immediately before that.

Another key difference between local elections in Estonia is that all registered foreign nationals who have permanent residence may vote, unlike in elections to the Riigikogu.

Only Estonian citizens can vote in the general election, while EU citizens from any of the 27 member states can vote in the European elections.

Elections to the presidency, which took place this week, are held at the Riigikogu and are not a direct vote by the populace.

Candidates at direct elections can also run for one of the major political parties, without actually being a member of that party.

Political parties must have a minimum of 500 members to be registered as such, and the nationally represented parties at the time of writing are: The Reform Party, the Center Party, the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE), the Social Democrats (SDE), Isamaa, Eesti 200, the Estonian Greens and TULE.

Most of the larger parties will be running candidates in most or all of the local municipalities on polling day, while smaller parties like the Greens have to pick their battlegrounds strategically.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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