Candidate nomination for next month's local elections ended Tuesday evening. In Tallinn, 1,182 individuals are registered across eight parties and two electoral alliances, while there are 10 independent candidates running in the capital, Tallinn city government says.
Reform has put up 98 candidates in Tallinn, compared with Center's 338.
Outside the capital, while there has been a tendency for rationalization of electoral alliances – groups of individuals running as candidates as an alternative to political parties, often on platforms specific to the locale – and in general fewer are running than in the past, alliances remain popular in some of the smaller municipalities.
Tallinn Electoral Committee City Secretary Priit Lello said that ahead of polling day, October 17: "Voters will now know who wants to get involved in shaping local life through politics over the next four years, and will be able to decide whom to vote for."
He said that in general, all parties and candidates had submitted their applications to run for office correctly.
Lello said: "Political parties and candidates have done a good job in preparing their application documents. The electoral committee team has been supportive of all participants, to ensure that the registration process is as smooth as possible."
"I am pleased to say that everything has gone well and would like to thank all political parties, electoral alliances, candidates and the National Electoral Service for cooperation," Lello continued, according to a city government press release.
Opposition parties say want to end Center dominance
Many of the parties say they are looking to end the Center Party's absolute majority in Tallinn.
Eesti 200's mayoral candidate, Marek Reinaas, said that the Tallinn city government under Center spends at very different levels across the capital's neighborhoods.
Reinaas said the party, if it ends up in office in Tallinn: "Plans to carry out a reform of Tallinn, and also a budget reform."
"The idea is very simple: If we look at the distribution of investments in Tallinn at the moment, Lasnamäe gets about €2,200 per person, but Mustamäe gets a little over €400 per person," Reinaas told ERR.
Lasnamäe is the most populous district of Tallinn.
Reform and SDE submitted candidates on Monday, Center, EKRE, Eesti 200, Isamaa and the Greens on Tuesday
Eesti 200 and Center, along with Isamaa, the Estonian Greens and the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) submitted their candidate lists in time for Tuesday's deadline (see gallery above).
The Reform Party and the Social Democrats (SDE) had already done so on Monday.
EKRE leader Martin Helme told ERR that: "Tallinn has a lack of ideas. The Center Party did have good ideas, which they once held a long time ago, but now they just sit their bench-warming and creating a food chain for their party members. This cycle of a stagnant, corrupt ticking of boxes must be broken."
Tallinn mayor Mihhail Kõlvart, running for reelection with Center, told ERR that it is up to the voter to decide.
Kõlvart said: "Our goal is to offer the voter the whole concept of city development, and the voter decides whether he trusts us to have the opportunity to implement this concept."
Kõlvart noted that the election ought not to just turn into a procession of Center-bashing.
He said: "Alternatively is it only this problem which needs to be solved: Remove the Center Party from power?"
Züleyxa Izmailova, Green Party mayoral candidate, told ERR that this time the battle for the capital will be a major one, precisely for the reason which Kõlvart had identified – a widespread desire to rein-in the Center Party.
She said her party promised a capital which cares for all its citizens, including the disabled. "Accessibility is a very big problem for many people today. People can't get out of their homes, they can't move. This is a very specific thing that we also want to change in the city."
Isamaa's mayoral candidate, former foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu, struck a Martin Luther-like pose Tuesday by affixing a list to the city government offices of, not 95, but 10 principles for governing the capital.
Center is putting up 338 candidates all told, Isamaa: 265, EKRE: 121, SDE: 115, Eesti 200: 104, Reform: 98, while the Greens have put up 94 candidates.
The two electoral alliances running in Tallinn are the Narodnyi Sojuz (a Russian-language alliance whose name in English would be "People's union") electoral alliance, with 24 candidates, and the Vaba Eesti ("Free Estonia") electoral alliance, with 19 candidates.
Tallinn's population is around 440,000.
Harju County seeing lower numbers of electoral alliances than in past elections
Outside of Tallinn but still in Harju County, there are fewer electoral alliances – groups of candidates often specific to that particular locale who run in competition with the established parties – than has been the case in the past, though they still exist and indeed flourish in some of the smaller municipalities.
Siiri Raaagmets, chair of Saku municipality electoral committee, told ERR that: "One electoral alliance has simply changed its name, although we still have the leading persons in this electoral alliance on the council today."
Saku, population around 10,700, has three electoral alliances running (down one from 2017), and five of the main political parties are running.
Ivo Rull, candidate for an electoral alliance in Viimsi, just outside Tallinn, said: "We say that we need to choose a community, not a political party."
Two electoral alliances, six of the main parties and one independent are running in Viimsi, population around 21,150, ERR reports.
In Rae rural municipality, population around 21,800, just to the south of Tallinn city limits, no electoral alliances are running at all, while in Lääne-Harju rural municipality, only one alliance is running whereas in previous years several would have put up long lists of candidates.
On the other hand Kuusalu municipality, population c. 6,400, sees the same number of electoral allianaces, at three, as political parties, while in Kose, population c. 7,200, only one party is running against three alliances.
Candidates must be submitted in ordered lists
Polling day is October 17.
Tallinn city council chambers hosts 79 deputies from across the eight city districts, which also make up eight voting constituencies (the constituency lines are different in general elections – ed.).
In addition to submitting their candidates, parties must do so in ordered lists. Under Estonia's d'Hondt system of proportional representation, those running higher up a list can transfer excess votes, beyond the threshold required to win a seat, to candidates lower down on the list.
This enables candidates who might not win a seat in their own right to do so.
Candidates running who cannot actually take up a seat – for instance Estonia's seven MEPs – will similarly pass on their seat, if they win one, to the next candidate in order who has not already won a seat.
The system tends to encourage running "vote magnets" high up on lists with a view to redistributing these votes, though over half of Riigikogu members also hold local council seats, either in Tallinn or elsewhere.
Candidate numbers to be allocated at random on Friday
Another procedural task which takes place on Friday is the doling out of registration numbers for candidates. These numbers appear next to the candidate when voting, both electronically and on paper.
The numbers start at 101, and are distributed to the eight parties' and two alliances' candidates first, followed by the 10 independent candidates.
So as not to imply that candidates or parties with higher (or lower) numbers are somehow more significant than others, the numbers are allocated randomly, by a lot drawn at 10.00 a.m. on Friday at the Tallinn city government office at Vabaduse väljak 7.
The city government will also live-link the lot-drawing ceremony online.
Editor: Andrew Whyte