EKRE vice-chair: Curious Estonia only European state to put faith in e-vote

Henn Põlluaas.
Henn Põlluaas. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) board will discuss on Tuesday whether to mount a court challenge over the e-vote results at Sunday's Riigikogu election, the party's vice-chair, Henn Põlluaas, says.

Appearing on ETV morning show "Terevisioon" Monday, Põlluaas said: "The question does not pertain to e-voters per se, but rather to the security of the system, and whether it is viable to guarantee that votes cannot be manipulated.'

"If we consider the fact that Estonia is the only country in Europe that uses this e-voting system, while others have analyzed everything and come to the conclusion that it cannot be used because it is not secure, why should only we be the ones to believe that it is so. This requires some specific knowledge," he went on.

"When we were in the government, we organized an international tender to invite impartial experts from abroad to check the entire system as a whole. This has never come to fruition, however, and the system has not been audited. When the [Center/EKRE/Isamaa] government was overthrown, the first step the Reform Party made was to cancel this procurement. I believe that if there really were no doubts, it would be in their interest to prove to the public that this is a secure and manipulation-free system. It does make you wonder," Põlluaas added.

Põlluaas added that his party did not dissuade its supporters from casting an e-vote, at least if they were unable to vote on paper for any reason, though added the latter was preferable.

As for the formation of a coalition government, Põlluaas said he thought that the standard life-span of two or more coalitions per four-year electoral cycle remained sound.

"I don't believe any government has lasted four years, so we don't know what could happen soon. Especially in the present day situation, where in fact people's livelihoods have declined substantially, we have the biggest economic recession, the people of Estonia are getting poorer at the fastest rate and with the highest rate of inflation, so people will probably come to see at some point whether they made the right choice on Sunday, or not," he added.

In any case, a Reform/EKRE coalition was as unlikely as it ever has been, he added (the two parties combined would have 54 seats – a majority-ed.).

"Most likely, this will not come about as the Reform Party has opposed EKRE from the outset and said they would not cooperate with us, though the math would suggest the two of us could form a coalition," he went on, adding that his party would cooperate will all or any of the remaining five elected parties.

EKRE's result was also disappointing he added – having lost two seats and now have 17.

The figure harms the party's ability to bring legislative bills to the Riigikogu also, Põlluaas, a former Riigikogu speaker, went on.

"Certain drafts can be introduced when there are 21 Riigikogu MPs, so [the result] definitely hinders our work," he said.

Põlluaas also pointed to the Prigozhin scandal, whereby international media reports stated that an organization linked to Yevgeny Prigozhin, chief of the notorious Wagner Group of Russian mercenaries, had been behind disinformation campaigns in Estonia in 2019.

Põlluaas said that this report had harmed EKRE's results at the polls.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael

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