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EKRE wants to limit participation in local elections to citizens

Martin Helme speaking in the Riigikogu.
Martin Helme speaking in the Riigikogu. Source: (Siim Lõvi/ERR)

The Estonian Conservative People’s Party (EKRE) is introducing a bill to limit the right to vote in local elections to Estonian citizens. According to the party, the participation of European Union citizens or foreigners with a permanent residence permit has not improved local government.

Chairman of EKRE’s parliamentary group, Martin Helme, said that including EU citizens and third-state nationals with a permanent residence permit had not improved how the state is run.

“There are local governments where people are in power that represent the interests of residents with [Alien’s Passports] or documents of some foreign country, and this is a danger to the Estonian state and culture. On the other hand we need to take the increasing immigration into account. According to the population register, more than 6,000 citizens of foreign countries came to live in Estonia last year, more than 1,000 Ukrainians, more than 100 Nigerians, and about the same number of Indians,” Helme pointed out.

According to Helme, immigrants were missing a connection to Estonian culture, and because of this lacking connection they shouldn’t have the right to have a say in matters concerning the country’s future.

“If immigrants want to decide the future of Estonia, then they have to respect the Estonian state and people, be fluent in Estonian and pass the citizenship exam. The right to vote could be a motivator to apply for Estonian citizenship,” Helme said.

Helme brought up the example of Latvia, which had not gone along with the EU and still today limited participation in any election to its citizens. They had not given in under pressure from Brussels. “The right to decide over local life has to be a privilege of the Estonian citizen,” Helme said.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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