Personal Riigikogu mandate easier to earn in bigger electoral districts

In-person voting in the 2019 Riigikogu elections.
In-person voting in the 2019 Riigikogu elections. Source: Aurelia Minev/ERR

While electoral districts' simple quotas in Riigikogu elections actually vary quite little, previous election results indicate that personal mandates are earned several times more often in electoral districts with more mandates than in smaller districts.

Thus in the previous three Riigikogu elections, held in 2019, 2015 and 2011, personal mandates were earned by three candidates in Electoral District 4 — Harju and Rapla counties — Estonia's largest with 15 mandates.

In Electoral District 2 (Tallinn's City Center, Lasnamäe and Pirita districts), its second largest with 13 mandates, personal mandates were earned by three candidates in 2011 and 2015 and two candidates in 2019.

In the previous three elections, at least one personal mandate each was also earned in District 1 (Tallinn's Haabersti, Põhja-Tallinn and Kristiine districts, ten mandates), District 3 (Tallinn's Mustamäe, Nõmme districts, eight mandates) and District 10 (Tartu, eight mandates), as well as District 7 (Ida-Viru County, seven mandates) and District 8 (Järva and Viljandi counties, seven mandates).

Personal mandates are earned by candidates who earn votes equaling or exceeding the simple quota of their electoral district, which is determined by dividing the number of persons who voted in the district by the number of mandates assigned to it.

As the number of mandates assigned to an electoral district is confirmed by the National Electoral Committee (VVK) based on the number of voters, it thus makes sense that simple quotas are relatively similar across all electoral districts, and that they are significantly affected by a given district's voter turnout.

Thus in 2019, simple quotas in the Riigikogu elections fell in the range of 5,332-6,235 votes, with the exception of Ida-Viru County, where the simple quota stood at 3,859. This anomaly can be attributed by the Northeastern Estonian county's low voter turnout — 48.2 percent of voting-age citizens in 2019, compared with 60.8-69.8 percent in other parts of the country.

In-person voting in the 2019 Riigikogu elections. Source: Aurelia Minev/ERR

On November 30, the National Electoral Committee (VVK) confirmed the number of mandates to be allocated to each electoral district in the 2023 elections.

The number of mandates, or seats, to go to the Ida-Viru County electoral district (District 7) has been reduced from seven to six, with the additional mandate to be assigned to the Harju and Rapla counties electoral district (District 4), boosting the latter's total to 16 mandates.

  • Electoral District 1, Tallinn's Haabersti, Põhja-Tallinn and Kristiine districts: 10 mandates
  • Electoral District 2, Tallinn's City Center, Lasnamäe and Pirita districts: 13 mandates
  • Electoral District 3, Tallinn's Mustamäe and Nõmme districts: 8 mandates
  • Electoral District 4, Harju and Rapla counties: 16 mandates
  • Electoral District 5, Hiiu, Lääne and Saar counties: 6 mandates
  • Electoral District 6, Lääne-Viru County: 5 mandates
  • Electoral District 7, Ida-Viru County: 6 mandates
  • Electoral District 8, Järva and Viljandi counties: 7 mandates
  • Electoral District 9, Jõgeva and Tartu counties: 7 mandates
  • Electoral District 10, City of Tartu: 8 mandates
  • Electoral District 11, Võru, Valga and Põlva counties: 8 mandates
  • Electoral District 12, Pärnu County: 7 mandates

The 2023 Riigikogu elections, in which all of the Estonian parliament's 101 seats are up for election, will be held on Sunday, March 5.

MPs are elected to the Riigikogu for a four-year term.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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