Political parties' candidate lists for the 2019 Riigikogu elections have been locked down for the most part. Uku Toom of ERR's radio news takes a look at how much parties' top picks have changed since the previous elections four years ago.
Let's take a look at five parliamentary parties and leave the Free Party alone. Not because of their current ratings, but because their list situation is still a bit messy. And I'm not going to start discussing by name those politicians who are running as top pick in the same electoral district again. Let's examine what has changed.
It appears as though the Social Democratic Party (SDE) has seen the most updates. The same names are at the top of the lists in just three electoral districts. True, to some extent this is a bit deceptive, as four top picks simply switched districts. Actual newcomers include Marina Kaljurand, Indrek Tarand, Madis Kallas and Katri Raik.
Pro Patria will be putting out four previous top picks. There aren't actually any really new leaders, although Jüri Luik and Tõnis Lukas have returned to politics.
The Reform Party has the same top candidates in six electoral districts, plus Taavi Rõivas, who was directed, so as not to say banished, to Lääne-Viru County. Kaja Kallas and Siim Kallas are back.
Centre also has the same top candidate in six districts, plus Mihhail Kõlvart, who was moved from Haabersti to Lasnamäe. New names include Raimond Kaljulaid and Janek Mäggi. Jaak Aab has returned.
The Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) remains the most unchanged — they have the same top candidate as last time in eight districts. New names include Jaak Valge, Leo Kunnas, Peeter Ernits and Kersti Kracht.
Savisaar no big loss
On the subject of losses, Pro Patria has received the biggest battering — Juhan Parts, Margus Tsahkna, Jaak Aaviksoo. Edgar Savisaar is gone from the Centre Party, but that doesn't seem like much of a loss.
Of the new names, it'll be interesting to see if Kaljurand and Tarand have maintained their previous popularity, and whether EKRE's pale names are capable of riding high on the glow of the party's ratings.
But while top candidates as a rule receive the most votes, you need backup, and this is where a spot on the list is important. For the old ones so that they don't take offence, and for the new ones so that they are not disappointed. On that note, while with good results you can move up from the back within an electoral district, a good (or bad) spot in the general list won't change anything.
If you now ask why the Centre Party and the Reform Party are only just confirming their general lists in January, there is one possible answer: to delay the offending of a number of commendable party members.
At the same time, a prime spot in the general list won't save you if you just don't get any votes at all — as happened last time with Kalev Lillo. And has happened with others as well.
But coming back to the current top candidates, if we were to place bets on whose total number of votes will increase the most compared to the previous elections, then I am prepared to bet on Taavi Aas — who earned just 156 votes in the previous elections.
Editor: Aili Vahtla