Parties spend over €1.8 million on campaign advertising in Q3 2021

EKRE and Reform local election campaign posters outside the Center Party's headquarters in Tallinn in September 2021.
EKRE and Reform local election campaign posters outside the Center Party's headquarters in Tallinn in September 2021. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The six largest political parties spent almost €2 million on advertising in the third quarter of 2021 (Q3 2021), while a third of this sum went on the Conservative People's Party of Estonia's (EKRE) campaigning. As an election year, 2021 is necessarily going to see a higher level of spend, reaching a crescendo in the weeks before polling day.

EKRE spent €605,253 on different types of advertising - €239,669 on outdoor advertising, €177,028 on TV spots, €119,084 on print advertising, €48,566 on other media promotions, €13,620 on radio spots and €6,556 on online advertising.

Isamaa was in second place regarding advertising costs. The party spent €391,982, while the Reform Party spent €308,393, the largest proportion of this - €189,985 - on print advertising.

The Social Democratic Party (SDE) spent €190,634, while Center spent €179,985 in Q3 2021.

The non-parliamentary party Eesti 200 spent €148,677 on advertising over the same period, while statements from the Estonian Greens and other smaller parties weren't received, ERR reports.

The relatively large sum of €1.8 million can be explained in the context of the nearing local government elections campaign, which started off in August and picked up pace in September, ahead of polling day, October 17, and the preceding six-day advance voting period.

By comparison, in the previous quarter, parties spent one-sixth the amount on advertising at €343,478.

Since the beginning of the year, the six major parties, Reform, Center, EKRE, Isamaa, SDE and Eesti 200, have spent a total of €2.5 million on advertisements, with EKRE spending the most at €856,240.

Since the beginning of the year, Isamaa Party has spent €480,439 on advertising, the Reform Party €458,281, the Center Party €319,632,SDE €202,389 and Eesti 200 €163,000.

The revenues of political parties since the beginning of the year (state support, donations, membership fees, income from party assets) have totaled €6.1 million since the beginning of the year.

The Reform Party (nearly €1.9 million) and the Center Party (nearly €1.5 million) have received the largest amounts.

EKRE's total income has been almost €881,000, Isamaa's 851,000, SDE's 574,000, Eesti 200 €431,000, through 2021.

If we take this year's income and expenses, EKRE and Isamaa have spent more in the first three quarters than their income in this period. EKRE's result is in the red to the tune of almost €295,000 from the beginning of the year, and Isamaa's deficit is €81,000.

However, there is nothing very special about this - in the election years, political parties have spent more in the past, either at the expense of stocks accumulated in previous years or at the expense of a shrinking future. For example, EKRE's result last year was €443,567 or more, and for Isamaa, €367,521.

One aspect of electioneering which has changed since the last elections, in 2018, to the Riigikogu and to the European Parliament, is a relaxation of the ban on electoral advertising in the weeks leading up to polling day. Previously a six-week-plus "dark period" had been enforced with regard to outdoor advertising; from this year parties can campaign outdoors, both on billboards and with canvassing tents, right up to, and including, polling day - only polling stations themselves have been declared off-limits to election campaign materials.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino, Andrew Whyte

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