The October 17 local elections are being followed by an intensive period of coalition negotiations up and down the country, across most of the 79 municipalities, from the largest to the smallest.
While in some cases, municipalities see a single party ruling with an absolute majority – as was the case in Tallinn for well over a decade, until this year – this is the exception rather than the norm, while the presence of municipality-specific, local electoral alliances in many areas, along with the mainstream national parties, adds an extra dimension (not all mainstream parties ran candidates in every single municipality, in part due to resource issues and electoral strategy).
At the same time, the main themes under discussion tend to recur: Education, the public space, infrastructure, the environment, sport and cultural facilities and business are the most common.
Another phenomenon peculiar to local politics is that parties ostensibly sworn enemies at the national level, for instance Eesti 200 and the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE), or Reform and EKRE, can end up being in coalition happily enough in a smaller locale.
ERR News is digesting coalition formations this week so far, with the date they were reported. Please note these include reports of both signed deals and of ongoing discussions, at various stages. All links in Estonian unless otherwise noted.
Tapa: EKRE and Valgejõgi electoral alliance
Tapa municipality will see a coalition made up of the Valgejõgi electoral alliance (eight seats) and the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE, three seats) giving an 11-seat majority on the 21-seat chamber, regional daily Virumaa Teataja reports.
Tapa, Lääne-Viru County, is home to a large military base, which hosts both Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) personnel and NATO soldiers from the U.K., France and other countries.
Paide: First coalition agreement ripped up, replaced by second involving both Reform and Center
Paide, Järva County, at the moment has two rival coalition agreements involving the Center Party, the Reform Party and two electoral alliances, Järva Teataja reports.
While two electoral alliances, called Paide – Inimeste Linn and Uus Paide, signed an agreement with the Reform Party last Friday, October 22, the following Monday, one of the alliances: Paide – Inimeste Linn, entered fresh talks with both Reform and Center, signing a new agreement Monday, October 25. This latter agreement is the definitive one, Jarva Teataja reports.
Four-party rainbow coalition in Põhja-Sakala rural municpality
Põhja-Sakala rural municipality in Viljandi County will be governed by a coalition made up of the Center Party, EKRE, Isamaa and Eesti 200, along with electoral alliance Ühine Tee, making up a 13-seat majority on the 21-seat council.
Another electoral alliance, Kogukonna Hääl, with eight seats, finds itself in opposition, while the new rural municipality mayor, Jaak Raie, has been poached from nearby Viljandi town municipality, as an apolitical leader.
North Pärnu County getting grand coalition
Coalition negotiations in Põhja Pärnumaa – North Pärnu County – looked like they were going down a similar route to those in Paide (see above) early on in the week, Pärnu Postimees reports. However, it seems likely now that no fewer than four electoral alliances, plus EKRE, will make up the coalition, though this has not been signed into being yet.
The four alliances are Valimisliit Inimeste Eest (five seats), Valimisliit Meie Vald (five seats), Valimisliit Tasakaal (four seats) and Valimisliit Vändra Noored (four seats), who will be joining EKRE, with three seats.
Pärnu County, the largest of Estonia's 16 counties by land area, though certainly not by population with just 84,000 inhabitants, as a whole is an EKRE stronghold.
Tõrva to be governed by Reform and Isamaa
No electoral alliances for the South Estonian town of Tõrva, Valga County; Reform, with 47.9 percent of the vote, won 11 seats, already a majority at the 21-seat council, but has sealed the deal by being joined by Isamaa (two seats).
Võru may get SDE/Reform/Center government
The southeastern town of Võru may be governed by a tripartite coalition of Reform, the Social Democratic Party (SDE) and Center, though as of Thursday, discussions were still ongoing, having already lasted late into Wednesday night, regional daily Lõuna Postimees reports.
Center managed to get on the city council despite picking up less than 7 percent of the vote and one seat.
SDE garnered 2,594 votes (47.7 percent) at the local government elections, giving it 10 seats, while EKRE polled at 1,192 votes (21.9 percent, five seats), Reform 710 votes (13.0 percent, three seats) Isamaa 561 votes (10.3 percent, two seats) and the Center Party 372 votes (6.8 percent, one seat).
Reform entering office with EKRE in Lääne-Nigula
The rural municipality in Lääne-Nigula, Lääne County, population around 7,000, sees a troika of led by former municipality mayor Mikk Lõhmus and the Tugevad Kogukonnad electoral alliance, along with EKRE and Reform, Lääne Elu reports.
Lõhmus, who polled more votes than any other candidate (at 181 votes), says that the three parties have agreed on the substantive issues, while he was joined by Hardi Rehkalt (EKRE) and Jaanus Ratas (Reform) at the Kullamaa osavallamaja on Thursday, to sign the coalition deal into being.
Unusual agreement sees electoral alliance 'mutually supporting' Reform
Reform will enter, not quite into coalition with local electoral alliance Ühtne Vald in the rural municipality of Toila, Lääne-Viru County, population around 4,600, but in a "mutual support" agreement, Põhjarannik reports.
"Coalition partners Electoral Union and the Reform Party's Toila branch for the electroal period 2021-2025, each will support the other in Toila municpality," the document, signed by Eve East (Ühtne Vald) and Anneik Teelahk (Reform), stated.
Reform will chair the municipality's social committee, while all other key positions will go to Ühtne Vald, include the mayoral post (Eve East) and council chair (Etti Kagarov).
"As our election programs were quite similar, a further action plan will be agreed on an ongoing basis," East added.
Ühtne Vald won nine seats at the 17-seat council chamber, already giving it a majority, while Reform won one. Terve Meie Kogukond won the remaining seven, and will be in opposition.
This article was updated to include the Lääne-Nigula and Toila deals.
Editor: Andrew Whyte