Eesti 200 expanding budget, candidate list for March general election

Chairperson hopeful Kristina Kallas at the general meeting to establish Estonia 200 as a political party. 3 November 2018.
Chairperson hopeful Kristina Kallas at the general meeting to establish Estonia 200 as a political party. 3 November 2018. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Non-parliamentary party Eesti 200 is set to bring a new line-up of front-runner candidates to next spring's Riigikogu elections, as well as a larger campaign budget, party leader Kristina Kallas says.

Eesti 200 is contesting its second general election next year, having been formed a few months before the March 2019 election, where the party failed to win any seats. It did, however, win seats at last October's local elections, including in Tallinn.

The party is socially liberal and generally pro-free market, putting it in terms of policy on paper as a competitor of the current three coalition partners, the Reform Party, the Social Democrats and, to a lesser extent, Isamaa.

Party membership stands at a little below 900 and, Kallas said, is growing.

Kallas, no relation of the prime minister's, told ERR that the party started its general election campaign a week ago, while the work will be stepped up in the fall.

The party will have a campaigning budget of around a million euros, Kallas added, compared with around €600,000 in 2019.

The party's electoral platform still requires some polishing, Kallas added, with the election board meeting to take place in the second week of January, when both this and the electoral list of candidates will be approved.

Kallas said: "We will have completely new lists. In the meantime, we have doubled in size as an organization. We haven't finalized the top candidates yet. Most likely none of these will be the same [as in 2019]; completely new people will emerge - we have a lot of new people."

As to whether Kallas herself will be running, the party leader could not say at this point.

"It is still open where exactly I might apply to run. There are opportunities both in Tartu and Tallinn, and also in Harju County. It is not locked-down yet," she said.

In 2019, Kallas ran as the top candidate in the City Center, Lasnamäe and Pirita distict of Tallinn.

Abitger lead candidate in 2019, former Postimees editor-in-chief Lauri Hussar, may run in Tallinn, or in Harju or Rapla counties, Kallas said.

Hussar is currently council chair in Viimsi, just outside Tallinn.

Most of the previous lead candidates in other constituencies (there are 12 in Estonia for the purpose of general elections), including aviation business leader Toomas Uibo and conductor Kadri Tali, will be running again this time around, Kallas added, often in the same districts as in 2019.

At the same time, there may be changes in the running order of candidates.

Under Estonia's modified d'Hondt system of proportional representation, parties run ordered lists of candidates in any given constituency. This encourages the use of high-profile "vote magnets" in the top couple of positions, since once these candidates have met the threshold for attaining a seat, excess votes can be distributed further down the list, often allowing candidates who would not have come close to winning a seat in their own right, to do so.

Another means by which candidates lower down the list get promoted upwards and win a seat is the use of "vote magnet" candidates who either have no intention of taking up a seat, or who get chosen as a government minister, Riigikogu speaker/deputy speaker, or the local government equivalent of same. Since ministers do not sit at the Riigikogu, the next individual on the ordered list not to already have a seat, takes up the vacated spot.

Speculation that former President of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid might run for Eesti 200 next March has so far remained just that.

The general election takes place on March 5 2023, preceded by several days' advance voting period.

It will be the first general election since a ban on outdoor electoral advertising in the weeks running up to polling day was lifted.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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