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Rene Kundla: Parties making themselves appear bigger than they are

Reform Party ad in Viimsi, summer 2017.
Reform Party ad in Viimsi, summer 2017. Source: (Siim Lõvi/ERR)

In the early stages of their election campaigns, the parties proudly listed in how many municipalities their candidates were running for office. In reality, they made themselves look bigger than they are, as on some of their lists only a very small number of people is standing for election — or, as in some cases, just one, ERR's Rene Kundla writes.

The 2017 local elections will be held for 79 local councils. The Center Party said that people could vote for them in no fewer than 73, the Conservative People’s Party of Estonia (EKRE) said they had candidates running for 50, and the ailing Pro Patria and Res Publica Union (IRL) announced they had candidates running in 47 of them. All of them stressed that they were talking about party lists, not single candidates.

According to the dictionary, a list is a set of things that all belong to a particular category, written down one below the other. In this case, that’s names, not a name. The Center Party as well as EKRE and IRL have single candidates in three municipalities, not lists, and there are plenty of cases across the parties where there are lists with fewer than ten candidates.

The Reform Party, running in 54 municipalities, has at least one single-name list, namely in the city of Maardu, where apparently it couldn’t convince any more people to run.

The shortest list of the Social Democrats (SDE) is seven names long and made up of its candidates for the local council in Jõhvi in Ida-Viru County.

As far as political terms are concerned, I think we should agree to call something a list once there are enough names on it to make part of a coalition. This autumn, for example, this could be 11 names, as the most popular size for local councils across the country is 21 this fall.

For the upcoming elections, 57 of the lists of the major parties are below this minimum—EKRE has fewer than 11 candidates on 19 of its lists, the Center Party and IRL on 13, the Reform Party on nine, and SDE on three.

The National Electoral Committee could reject all those lists that are below the limit, and accept them once they come back with more candidates on them.

Up to a point, the wish of the parties to appear bigger than they are is understandable, but the comparison that suggests itself here is that of the men’s room, where at the urinal you sometimes find a sign saying “Step closer, it’s not as big as you think it is”.

Though I admit that it would be much more interesting to hear why IRL doesn’t have a single list anywhere in Lääne and Põlva County, and why EKRE isn’t going for it in Ida-Viru County.


Rene Kundla is ERR’s correspondent for Northeastern Estonia.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

Source: ERR, Vikerraadio

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