Eesti 200 took in all-time record quarterly party donations in Q1 2023

Eesti 200.
Eesti 200. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Coalition partner Eesti 200 received the highest volume financial donations in the first quarter of 2023 (Q1 2023), totaling €805,505.

The sum is also the largest-ever sum to have been donated to a single political party in the space of one quarter, ERR reports, based on data from the  Political Parties Financing Surveillance Committee (ERJK).

All political parties in Estonia are required to provide their financials to the ERJK on a quarterly basis, providing details of donations and donors, state support, membership fees and investment earnings, as well as expenditures.

Alamäe and Helenius donated the most to Eesti 200

Nortal CEO  Priit Alamäe and businessman Joakim Helenius provided the largest single donations, at €155,300 and €150,000 respectively in Q1 2023.

Helenius ran for the party at the March 5 Riigikogu election.

These two were followed by Tarmo Tamm, Paul-Kristjan Padrik and Urvo Männamaa, who each donated €50,000.

Tech guru Sten Tamkivi, one half of Wise founders Taavet Hinrikus, and businessman Oleg Ossinovski, each donated €35,000 to Eesti 200 in Q1 2023, while other significant individual donors were timber entrepreneur Jüri Külvik (€30,000), Starship co-founder Anti Heinla, businessman Mait Rõõmusaar and Bolt co-founder Martin Villig gave €20,000 each to Eesti 200, while supermarket magnate Oleg Gross donated €15,000.

Oleg Ossinovski made largest donation to SDE

Oleg Ossinovski also donated to Eesti 200's new coalition partner the Social Democrats (SDE), to the tune of €50,000, the party's single largest donation in Q1 2023.

SDE took in the second largest total donations in the quarter, at €516,389.

Other significant donors were: Nõmme district elder and party member Lauri Paeveer (€33,122), Priit Vaikmaa with (€30,000), along with former MP Kadi Pärnits (€26,000), SDE MP Helmen Kütt (€23,664) and Ahti Heinla (see above) at €20,000.

Reform backed by less high-profile figures

The senior coalition partner, Reform, took in slightly less in donations in Q1 2023, at €503,345.

The largest single donor was construction magnate Aivar Tuulberg (€30,000) followed by businessmen Aivar Linnamäe, Andres Viisemann and Tõnis Raide (€25,000 each), just ahead of MP and former cross-country skiing olympic gold medalist Kristina Šmigun-Vähi (€24,000).

Oleg Gross (see above) donated €20,000; Tarmo Tamm the same sum. Construction entrepreneur Toomas Luman made a donation of €15,000 to the Reform Party in Q1 2023.

More than half of Isamaa's donations came from three donors

Isamaa, in the past often the most donated-to party, brought in €382,155 I donations in Q1 2023, with €200,000 of this coming from BigBank owner and regular donor Parval Pruunsild (€100,000) and Aivar and Margus Linnamäe (€50,000 each), businessmen brothers whose interests include the MM Grupp (pharmaceuticals), the Apollo Group (entertainment) and Postimees Grupp (media).

Other significant Isamaa donors were Kaspar Kok (€25,000), Jüri Külvik and Olar Järvloo (€15,000 each).

Parempoolsed received more in donations than EKRE, Center

The newly-founded Parempoolsed, which contested its first election on March 5, took in €276,104 in donations in Q1 2023, a larger sum than the two largest opposition parties, Center and EKRE.

The largest single donor was entrepreneur Rain Lõhmus (€75,000), while Jaan Pillesaar donated €25,000 to Parempoolsed; Heldur Meerits and Ivar Dembovski €10,000 apiece.

Parempoolsed failed to win any Riigikogu seats on March 5, but did surpass the 2-percent threshold required to qualify for state support, issued to all parties in proportion to their size.

Center's donations mostly from its own members

The Center Party, who attributed its poor election result to scarce financial resources, took in €217,405 in donations in Q1 2023.

This followed a major donation drive the party had pursued last year, after being hit with an €850,000 fine in respect of PR work done around a decade ago, and adjudged to constitute an illegal donation.

One of the party's leading MPs, chess master Andrei Korobeinik was the most significant single donor (€25,000), while businesswoman Eve Toots gave the party €10,000.

Tallinn Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart donated €7,920 to his home party in Q1 2023, while MP and former sumo star Kaido Höövelson gave €7,500; Lauri Laats, just under that at €7,000.

The party's chair, Jüri Ratas, himself donated €5,000 to Center.

EKRE received the smallest financial donations

The opposition Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) this time around took in by far the smallest amount in donations, at €93,455.

The largest of these came from the party's Lääne County district chief Hardi Rehka, an agricultural entrepreneur, who donated €7,435 to EKRE in Q1 2023.

Indrek Gusev and Marek Kuhlberg, provided €5,000 each, while former rural affairs minister Arvo Aller donated €4,000 to his party; MP Jaak Valge gave €3,435.

Political parties' Q1 2023 expenses twice as large as income

The above seven parties' donations totaled €2.8 million as cited on the ERJK website Tuesday morning.

Parties also took in close to €1.3 million in state support (see above), membership fees across all seven parties totaled €45,398 percent, making this one of the least significant sources of revenue for most parties, while €28,454 in investment earnings was reported, all told.

While this gave a Q1 2023 revenue of €4.2 million for all parties, expenses over the same period were over double this, at €8.36 million – unsurprisingly, given the quarter coincided with an election campaign period.

By party, Reform spent the most (€2.428 million) in the quarter, the bulk of which went on campaigning, followed by Isamaa (€1.339 million, again most of which was spent on the political campaign).

Eesti 200's spending was €1.285 million; SDE's 1.256 million, again mostly on the campaign trail.

Center spent €787,643 on its pre-election campaign in Q1 2023, out of a total of €926,159 – a third of that of Reform.

EKRE spent €546,915 on campaigning, of a total spend of €630,046 in Q1 2023, while Parempoolsed spent €467,988 on political activities, out of €500,478 spent.


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Editor: Urmet Kook, Andrew Whyte

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