Reform spent most on October 2021 local election campaign, at €1.3 million

Reform Party outdoor ads close to Center Party HQ, ahead of the 2019 Riigikogu elections.
Reform Party outdoor ads close to Center Party HQ, ahead of the 2019 Riigikogu elections. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Campaign expenses for last October's local elections ranged from around €400,000, to more than three times that amount, in the case of the Reform party, according to the fourth quarter 2021 (Q4 2021) reports all the major parties have been obliged to submit, ETV news show 'Aktuaalne kaamera' (AK) reported Monday evening.

While the local elections are now a thing of the past – polling day was October 17 – the parties are already looking ahead to the next elections, to the Riigikogu, in March 2023.

Erkki Keldo, Secretary General of the Reform Party, said that the party's Riigikogu election campaign costs would consist of: "Ad space reservations, an action plan and schedule. The planning committee must be convened to collect ideas, while the electoral list must also be considered," referring to the ordered list of candidates running in each of Estonia's 12 Riigikogu electoral districts.

The Center Party spent about €900,000 on the local elections, and Secretary General Andre Hanimägi said that a large part of the candidates contributed. 

Hanimägi said: "In particular, these question marks are related to a Supreme Court decision related to the dispute between Midfield and the Center Party over the 2009-2015 advertising campaigns. There is a very large amount up there," said Hanimägi.

Isamaa spent €840,000 on its local government election campaign, and party Secretary General and Rigiikogu group leader Priit Sibul said it has commenced work on its general election campaign.

He said: "In a sense, the election campaign has already begun. The elections in March 2023 lie before us, while the whole period is ahead of us and with increasing intensity."

The opposition Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) says its local government election campaign cost half-a-million euros, while non-parliamentary party Eesti 200 spent slightly less than that in 2021 all told, mostly on the October election.

EKRE was in office for the first time at the national level with Center and Isamaa, from April 2019 until almost a year ago to the day.

Eesti 200 contested its first ever election in March 2019, narrowly missing out on Riigikogu seats, and picked up its first seats of any kind in the local elections. The party also ran in the May 2019 European elections.

Eesti 200 board member Pirkko Konsa said that the party was not going to splash out on a major campaign ahead of March 2023.

He said: "I believe that the local elections taught us that we can actually get our message across to the electorate with a fairly reasonable budget."

The opposition Social Democratic Party (SDE) reported local election campaign spend of €400,000, approximately, on the October election.

Party Secretary General Rannar Vassiljev says the party will begin its general election campaign in earnest once a new party leader is elected, to replace current leader while the party will spend more than it did on the municipal elections.

Vassiljev said: "The current financial situation permits us to create such a base for the next Riigikogu elections in order to conduct a larger campaign than in the local elections," Vassiljev noted.

Indrek Saar announced shortly after the local elections in the fall that he would not be seeking reelection as party leader.

Polling day at the next election is March 5 2023.

The next European parliamentary elections will take place in 2024.

Estonia's political parties were required to submit their Q4 2021 financial reports to  the Political Parties Supervision Committee (ERJK).


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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