Estonia's two newest would-be political parties need to get moving in finding members, if they're to meet the legal requirement for registration as a party in time for the March 2019 general election.
Estonia 200 wants at least 100 members to join its ranks by 3 November, when it hopes to unveil itself as a full-fledged party. The legal criterion is 500 members for a registered party; anything smaller cannot run in the elections (though individuals can).
''We've agreed not to reveal in the media the exact number, but we only have a short way to go," said Estonia 200 group chair Kristina Kallas (no relation to Kaja Kallas) to the Baltic News Service (BNS).
Estonia 200 getting more popular than Free, and possibly Pro Patria
Estonia 200 published its manifesto in May 2018, deciding to run in the elections in August.
According to a recent Kantar Emor poll on behalf of the BNS and daily Postimees, Estonia 200's support stands at 4.1%, which puts it ahead of one party actually in parliament (Free) and just behind another (Isamaa/Pro Patria). The benchmark figure is 5%, since that is the threshold needed at the elections to get any seats at all.
The group boasts former Pro Patria minister Margus Tsahkna in its ranks.
The more recently formed Biodiversity Party, led by former Free Party leader Artur Talvik, has a much larger hill to climb, however.
"As of now, we have 105 members," said Toomas Trapido, member of the party initiative group, to the BNS. Mr Trapido went on to say that the target date for 500 members is 27 October, with the absolute cut-off being in mid-November.
Since the group, which brought together several luminaries from the ecological community, polled at 0% (probably due to a lack of public awareness) in the same Kantar Emor survey noted above, its prospects for election success look bleak even if it finds 400 willing members in a little over a month, ie more than 10 new members per day.
Meanwhile the Free Party's membership is only hovering above the 500 mark at the most recent estimates, even though it has seven Riigikogu seats.
Editor: Andrew Whyte