Analyst: EKRE might not make the government if it bests Center at elections

Ott Lumi.
Ott Lumi. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Political scientist Ott Lumi said on ERR's "Otse uudistemajast" webcast that the struggle to form a coalition will likely be between the liberal and conservative camps following the March elections. He added that if EKRE bests Center at elections, the party will have a hard time making any government.

"The general campaign mood is boring. No one has managed to pull off a surprise. A lot of it is just background," Lumi said, trying to sum up this year's campaigns.

"The other major keyword is the Ukraine war. These elections are rather geared towards foreign policy," he added.

Lumi said that the Reform Party have already won the security debate. "They have been dictating it for the past year."

The expert also said that the European Commission president and NATO secretary general visiting Estonia to mark the country's anniversary serves the Reform Party's interests. Kaja Kallas' strong foreign policy image isn't hurting either.

Talking about EKRE's election campaign and especially their criticism of Ukraine aid, Lumi said that the strategy might prove problematic in terms of convincing hesitant voters to back the national conservatives.

Regarding political newcomers Parempoolsed, Lumi said they started their campaign too late. "Had they started banging on the drum of fiscal balance a year ago, they might have stolen some of Reform's voters but it has not happened so far," he suggested.

The scientist emphasized that fiscal balance does not seem to matter much to voters today.

Lumi said that Eesti 200 have been smart. "They have refrained from trying to dictate core topics. They have been jolly and smiling in their campaign. Politically speaking, the question is what will happen if they take over ten mandates. What will they do after the elections and as part of a potential coalition? It might be very funny, or I might be wrong."

He remarked that should Eesti 200 join the Reform Party in a coalition, the latter's experience might simply end up neutralizing Eesti 200. "We know from past experience that Reform are very good at such maneuvers," he offered.

Lumi also said that the media has failed to highlight different topics in the runup to elections.

"The press is concentrating on party programs, while politics is much more than that. It is first and foremost a question of power. Possible coalitions options and the like. The debates seem a bit short on that dimension," he commented.

The political scientist remarked that two power blocs are clearly taking shape behind the scenes - Reform, Eesti 200 and the Social Democrats versus EKRE, Isamaa and the Center Party - the manifestation of which depends on the election result.

"Things are a little more complicated in the second bloc. It is not clear who will be on top there - EKRE or Center. Should EKRE win, that camp will be largely incapable of organizing anything."

"Should EKRE win the elections, offering them the post of prime minister will be very difficult, especially for people in Isamaa," Lumi said.

Isamaa is potentially losing votes to both Eesti 200 and Parempoolsed, he pointed out.

Lumi also holds a Reform-Center coalition to be possible should neither of the three-way blocs manifest.

He said that Center's success at mobilizing its Russian-speaking voters will also be a factor in forming the next government. "Center is perhaps the most important factor in this context. To what extent their Russian backers will turn out. That is the key issue," Lumi said.


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Editor: Aleksander Krjukov, Marcus Turovski

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