40 MPs at last Riigikogu failed to get reelected Sunday

Center MPs at the XIV Riigikogu. Of those in the picture, only Jaak Aab (second row from from, looking at laptop) was returned to the XV Riigikogu.
Center MPs at the XIV Riigikogu. Of those in the picture, only Jaak Aab (second row from from, looking at laptop) was returned to the XV Riigikogu. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Forty MPs from the XIV Riigikogu, or 40 percent of the total Riigikogu composition, failed to secure reelection to the XV Riigikogu at Sunday's election.

ERR has compiled a list of those MPs, by party, who were either not reelected to the Riigikogu, or who were members of the previous Riigikogu composition and who did not seek reelection.

Please note that the list necessarily does not include Eesti 200, who won their first Riigikogu seats on Sunday, and in a few cases, MPs may return as alternate members, of which more later.

On the other hand, the Center Party, the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE), Isamaa and the Social Democrats (SDE) all lost seats overall, so would be expected to see the balance of MPs not returning in any case.

Reform Party

While Reform took a record 37 seats at the 101-seat chamber, the following XIV Riigikogu MPs were not returned: Ivi Eenmaa, Hele Everaus, Sulev Kannimäe, Toomas Järveoja, Jüri Jaanson, Enne Pillak, Mati Raidma, Ülle Rajasalu and Urve Tiidus.

Additionally, while Margit Sutrop was not reelected, she is the alternate to Mayor of Tartu Urmas Klaas. Assuming the latter remains as Tartu mayor, he will not be able to sit in parliament, in which case Sutrop will take his place.

Center Party

Election night was not a good one for the Center Party, which saw several big names miss out as the party went from 23 seats to 16 as follows: Former economic affairs minister and former Tallinn mayor Taavi Aas, Dmitri Dmitrijev, Enn Eesmaa, Kaido Höövelson, Marek Jürgenson, Igor Kravchenko, Siret Kotka, Natalja Malleus, Aadu Must, Kersti Sarapuu, former environment minister Erki Savisaar, Tarmo Tamm, former culture minister Anneli Ott and Marko Šorin.


From EKRE, which lost two seats and now has 17, Merry Aart, Riho Breivel, Peeter Ernits, Uno Kaskpeit, Paul Puustusmaa and Urmas Reitelmann were not returned.

Kalle Grünthal was also not elected, but may return as alternate member for Jaak Madison, the party's sole MEP.


Isamaa lost Heiki Hepner, Tarmo Kruusimäe, Mihhail Lotman and Raivo Tamm, again quite big hitters.


SDE also lost some big names: Well-known local historian Jaak Juske, Toomas Jürgenstein, Eduard Odinets, former MEP Ivari Padar and Reili Rand.

Did not seek reelection

Those who did not seek reelection this time round were: Heiki Kranich (Reform), Ruuben Kaalep (EKRE), Viktoria Ladõnskaja-Kubits (Isamaa), Kalvi Kõva (SDE), former education minister Mailis Reps (Center), former culture minister Indrek Saar (SDE), former finance minister Sven Sester (Isamaa), Marko Torm (Reform), Marika Tuus-Laul (Center) and Viktor Vassiljev (Center).

Many candidates run who cannot then take up seat

Since the prime minister (who also ran and polled at the highest ever number of votes in post-restoration of independence Estonian electoral history), government minister, the Riigikogu speaker, municipal government members, municipal council chairs, MEPs and leaders of some state, local government or EU-related bodies may not sit as MPs, these have to vacate their seats if they won one.

An alternate member, the next candidate on the list not to have won a seat, then takes their place. Should the original incumbent return to the Riigikogu, for instance when leaving office as a government minister for any reason, this "benchwarmer" MP must then make way for them.

This is the case regardless of whether the vacating MP held their other post prior to running (such as Estonia's seven MEPs, who face an election next year), or after (for instance MPs appointed as ministers once a new coalition is formed up).

That such figures run at all can be explained by the electoral system used: The d'Hondt system of proportional representation sees parties file ordered lists, with excess votes achieved by higher-polling candidates once they have clinched a seat, redistributed lower down the ordered list.

This allows candidates who would not have won a seat in their own right, to do so.

'Vote magnets'

For this very reason, parties run high-profile "vote magnet" candidates at or near the top of their lists in each of the 12 electoral districts, even if they have no intention of taking up a seat.

The "vote magnet" phenomenon can have a shelf-life, however. Center's Kaido Höövelson had not long retired from a successful career in Japan, as a sumo wrestler, under the name "Baruto", when he was elected in 2019, while, in the more distant past, Viktoria Ladõnskaja-Kubits, as an Estonian whose first language is Russian, was heralded as a great example of integration when first elected, at the 2015 Riigikogu election. She announced last year that she would not be running in the 2023 election.

Sometimes leading figures in other posts pledge in advance to take up their seat if elected. This happened in the city of Võru, where both the mayor, Anti Allas (SDE), and the council chair, the similarly-named Anti Haugas (Reform), won a seat, which they will take up. The argument here was that it will help this more outlying region of Estonia get better representation at the Riigikogu, in Tallinn.

In the opposite direction Narva Mayor Katri Raik opted not to run at the Riigikogu elections this time, and to remain to tackle local issues in the Estonian border town.

MPs are permitted to hold local council seats, just not be in office in local government, or be council chair.

Around half the MPs at the XIV Riigikogu held two seats in this way.

Maaleht: Every candidate who ran received at least one vote

Agricultural weekly Maaleht reports (link in Estonian) that this time round, unlike at previous elections, each of the 968 candidates who ran received at least one vote, though one candidate did receive that tlly, while two others received three and five votes respectively.

Another interesting tidbit from the polls relates to 85-year-old Vello Kookmaa, who polled at 33, as an independent candidate, Maaleht reports. Kookmaa talked his relative Alar, same surname, to run also; the latter polled at 29.

The other parties that ran in the recent election, Parempoolsed, the Estonian Greens and the United Left Party, failed to win seats.

The final, official results, subject to appeals, have yet to be announced.

The XV Riigikogu will take up office once they have been announced and once other administrative aspects have been dealt with, certainly by early April.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Aleksander Krjukov

Source: Maaleht

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