Only three MPs clinch seats out of six on offer in Ida-Viru County
A very low voter turnout in Ida-Viru County has seen just three MPs from any party returned for the XV Riigikogu, though six mandates would have been possible.
This is particularly noteworthy in the case of Center, a region traditionally one of the party's strongholds.
Local daily Põhjarannik reports (link in Estonian) that the district had seen its total number of Riigikogu seats on offer reduced by one, since the last election in 2019, to six, yet only half of these were claimed in the event.
In previous elections, Center had swept up at least half the number of district mandates up for grabs in Ida-Viru County.
This time, only MEP Yana Toom (3,546 votes) won a seat for Center by way of district mandate, Põhjarannik says.
Part of the issue facing Center this time was the low turnout, at a little over 30 percent – low even for a district which traditionally has suffered from this malaise (in 2019 turnout was over 40 percent).
This harms all parties of course; projected strong showings for Eesti 200 and Reform, for instance, did not materialize on the night, but Center in particular had started to see its overall vote and seat tally ebbing away thanks to low turnout in Ida-Viru County, even in 2019.
The reasons are complex, though the current security situation and the point of view of many living in Ida-Viru County towns, many of which are majority Russian-speaking, will have played its part even as those who can vote at Riigikogu elections are Estonian citizens, regardless of what their first language is.
The biggest single manifestation of this discontent was found in two candidates who themselves very nearly won seats and won more votes each than did Yana Toom.
One, Mihhail Stalnuhhun, picked up 4,577 votes running as an independent.
Stalnuhhin was expelled by Center last September, after referring to the coalition government as "fascists" and "nazis", for removing a controversial Soviet-era T-34 tank which had long graced a plinth just outside the border town of Narva.
In the event, he was less then 400 votes short of being the first independent candidate to win a Riigikogu seat in 30 years.
The other, Aivo Peterson, ran for the United Left Party (EÜVP). Peterson had made election campaign videos from occupied eastern Ukraine, and picked up 3,960 votes on the night. Prior to the e-vote result coming in, he was looking on track for a seat-
Since Yana Toom is an MEP, she would need to surrender her seat in Brussels to take up a Riigikogu seat. If she does not, former Narva Mayor Aleksei Jevgarov (1,402 votes) will take her Riigikogu seat as an alternate member.
Of the remainder, Reform picked up one district mandate (Meelis Kiili, with 1,294 votes).
No other parties picked up a district mandate, but when the compensation mandates are finalized, it seems likely that former rural affairs minister Arvo Aller (EKRE) will get one of these.
More on the workings of the Estonian electoral system is here.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael