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FAQs: Estonian local elections 2021

Estonia's local elections will take place on October 17 but who can vote, where, when and how? ERR News answers some frequently asked questions.

The municipal electoral system and candidates are covered first, followed by voting information.

Electoral system and candidates

A door at the office of the Election Commission. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

When do the elections take place?

Election day is on Sunday, October 17. Advance voting takes place between October 11-16.

Local elections are held every four years and are always held on the third Sunday in October.

Who is elected? 

Members of municipal and city councils, such as Tallinn and Tartu city councils.

Candidates can run as party members, with electoral alliances, or as independents.

What parties are running?

There will be representatives from all the parties with seats in Estonia's parliament: Reform, Center, the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE), Isamaa and the Social Democrats (SDE).  

Additionally, candidates will run for Eesti 200, the Estonian Greens and TULE which are non-parliamentary parties.

Electoral alliances run in specific municipalities and are focused on local issues. They form an alternative to the mainstream parties.

Who can stand as a candidate?

An Estonian or EU citizen with the right to vote, who is over the age of 18 by the registration deadline. They must be a permanent resident.

Their place of residence must be located in the corresponding rural or urban municipality no later than August 1.

This year there are 10,025 candidates. You can find candidates running in your district here.

Where do candidates stand?

Candidates stand in electoral districts.

There are 79 local governments in Estonia, which are divided into 64 rural municipalities and 15 cities, the Eesti Politika website says (link in Estonian)

Some of the issues local governments are responsible for include the provision of social services and social assistance, water and sewage, local public transport and local roads, maintaining schools, libraries and other local institutions.

Tallinn is the largest local government and candidates run in eight districts:

  • Haabersti
  • Kesklinn (City Center)
  • Kristiine
  • Pirita
  • Põhja-Tallinn (North Tallinn)
  • Lasnamäe
  • Mustamäe
  • Nõmme

A map of Tallinn's districts can be viewed here on the Tallinn City Council website. 

How are seats awarded?

Election results are calculated based on the principle of proportionality, party lists and the d'Hondt method of proportional representation.

Candidates can be elected by surpassing the vote quota set in each electoral district. This is determined by dividing the number of valid votes cast in the electoral district by the number of mandates in that district.

Additional mandates not distributed on a quota basis, are divided between the parties and election coalitions and given to candidates who receive at least 5 percent of the vote.

No political party or election coalition shall be given more mandates than there are candidates in its list.

An overview of how seats are determined can be read at § 56 and § 561 in the Local Government Council Election Act.



Voting in the 2017 local elections in Estonia. Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

Who can vote?

Anyone with permanent residency who is over the age of 16.

How can you vote?

It is possible to vote online or in person at a polling station.

A guide to voting online in English, Russian and Estonia can be found here.

Where can you vote?

You can cast a paper ballot at polling stations that are located in public buildings, including shopping malls. This year there are a number of "pop-up" polling stations inside large tents or marquees.

To cast an online vote you can use a computer but you cannot use a mobile phone.

A list of Tallinn's polling stations can be seen here and those elsewhere can be viewed here.

When can you vote?

You will be able to vote between October 11-17, but it depends how and where you want to vote during this time.

Advance voting and e-voting take place between October 11-16. You cannot vote online on election day, October 17, only in person.

A breakdown of when you can and cannot vote has been published by the National Election Committee and had been republished below.

October 11-14: Advance voting is held in at least one voting district designated in each rural municipality and city. Advance voting outside the electoral district of residence is also held. Voting opens at 12 noon and closes at 8 p.m.

October 11-16: Electronic voting takes place. Voting opens at 9 a.m. on October 11 and lasts round-the-clock until 8 p.m. on October 16.

October 15-16: Advance voting is held in all voting districts from 12 a.m. to 8 p.m. Home voting is also held.

October 17: Voting takes place from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Home voting is also held.

Online voting cannot take place on October 17.

Results will be announced on October 17, but coalition negotiations will take place for each council after and it will take several weeks for all results to be known.

Is it possible to change or cancel an e-vote?

Yes, technically you can e-vote as many times as you like but only the last one will be counted.

It is also possible to 'cancel' your e-vote but voting in person at a polling station. This can be done until 8 p.m. on Sunday.

Do you need ID to vote?

You need a valid document to confirm your identity in a polling station. You do not need to take along or print off your polling card.

Accepted personal documents include:

  • ID card.
  • Driver's license.
  • Estonian passport.
  • Diplomatic passport.
  • Seafarer's discharge book.
  • Pension certificate.

Can someone vote on my behalf?

No. In Estonia, everyone votes for themselves. You cannot authorize someone else to vote on your behalf.

The only exception is voters who are unable to leave the house for health reasons. They can contact their local administration and request to vote at home.

Which candidates can you vote for?

You can vote for candidates in the district you are registered as living in.

What are the parties offering?

You can see a breakdown for Tallinn here.

Sunday is election day. Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

More information

ERR News:

Find your local election candidate

More than 25,000 EU citizens can vote in upcoming local elections

'Average' local election candidate is 49-year-old man with higher education

Local elections: 38 percent of candidates are women

Over 60 public events registered for election day after law change

Health Board: Coronavirus certificate not required at polling stations

ERR's approach to local elections campaign coverage

Tallinn: Tallinn election promises: Free kindergarten places and new tramlines

Election Committee

More information can be viewed on the Election Committee's website.

Political Parties

Information about each parties' campaign can be found below, in Estonian.

Reform Party

Center Party


Eesti 200

Social Democrats




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Editor: Helen Wright

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