Reform unveils top Riigikogu elections candidates in all 12 constituencies

The Reform Party has announced its front-runner candidates for the March 5 Riigikogu election.

Reform presented its top candidates in all 12 constituencies on Friday (see gallery).

Party leader and Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said: "The Reform Party has the strongest team ahead of the upcoming Riigikogu elections, one which has long-term experience in state management, and also the ability to show decisiveness in critical times.

"At a time when we have several crises all happening at once, people need the utmost confidence that Estonia will be defended and protected, and remain in safe hands, " Kallas said.

Kallas is the number on candidate in the Harju and Rapla counties constituency.

The remaining Reform Party top candidates in each constituency are as follows:

Hiiumaa, Lääne County and Saaremaa: Kalle Laanet, former defense minister.

Ida-Viru County: Maj. Gen. Meelis Kiili, a reserve army officer.

Järva and Viljandi counties: Jürgen Ligi, former finance minister.

Lääne-Viru County: Hanno Pevkur, who is Minister of Defense.

Pärnu County: Toomas Kivimägi, MP and member of the Riigikogu's constitutional affairs committee.

Tallinn: Mustamäe and Nõmme: Urmas Paet, MEP.

Tallinn: Haabersti, Põhja Tallinn and Kristiine: Kristen Michal, Reform's Tallinn city council chambers chief whip.

Tallinn: Kesklinn, Lasnamäe and Pirita: Siim Kallas, honorary party chair.

Tartu and Jõgeva counties: Urmas Kruuse, Rural Affairs Minister.

Tartu City: Urmas Klaas, Mayor of Tartu.

Võru, Valga and Põlva counties: Liina Kersna, former education minister.

While as the largest party Reform has a wider bench of experienced politicians to choose from, the party has not put any "celebrities" from outside the world of politics, in its top rank.

"Number one candidate" should not be taken to be a boast or a value judgement – under Estonia's d'Hondt system of proportional representation, parties must by the regulations run ordered lists of candidates, meaning someone has to be at the top of the list.

Since the number one (and subsequent) candidates pass down excess votes, once they have passed the threshold to gain a seat, to candidates lower on the list, parties always run high-profile figures they feel will garner the most votes.

In this way, candidates lower down the list sometimes gain a seat from these excess, distributed votes, even if they only received a modest amount of votes (in some cases, in the hundreds) in their own right.

Candidates do not even need to belong to the party and can simply run on its list, though front-runner candidates are usually members.

Government ministers, the prime minister and the Riigikogu speaker and their deputies, not to mention MEPs and those with some local government posts may not take up a seat even if they win one (assuming they remain as a minister etc.) but there is nothing to stop them from running.

In that case, they vacate the seat, which then goes to the next candidate on the party's ordered list who has not already won a seat. Should the original candidate return to the Riigikogu, for instance when the government leaves office, this "benchwarmer" MP must make way for them.

MPs can simultaneously hold local council seats, and around half of them do. MEPs may not hold a Riigikogu or local council seat.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Aleksander Krjukov

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