Based on recent support polls for political parties in Estonia, the European Parliament elections in May will see Estonia send MEPs from three parties: Centre, Reform, and the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE).
The research, conducted by pollsters Kantar Emor, makes the predictions based on its support polls, with Centre polling 28.5% of the vote, Reform 25.5% and EKRE 17.5%.
Estonia's voting system both at European and national levels is such that via the d'Hondt method of proportional representation (PR), the three parties will garner a sufficient number of votes to distribute seats to their candidates, to the exclusion of the other parties running.
The Social Democratic Party (SDE), Isamaa and Estonia 200 would all poll in the 7-8.5% range, according to the research, which would put them below the threshold needed for a seat, going against the oft-heard argument that PR systems often favour smaller parties.
This would mean that SDE and Isamaa would both lose their current seats (currently held by Ivari Padar and Tunne Kelam respectively), Centre, currently represented by Yana Toom, would gain at least one, and Reform, currently represented by Urmas Paet and the outgoing Igor Gräzin, would likely gain at least one too. EKRE would be represented for the first time at the European level.
Indrek Tarand, a current MEP who sits as an independent so far as Estonian parties go, is running in the general election for SDE.
Brexit gives one new MEP seat to Estonia
Estonia is treated as one electoral district in the European elections, as opposed to the 12 districts for the 3 March general election. Estonia is also to have one more seat up for grabs in May than the current six MEP seats it is represented by, thanks to the redistribution of some of the 74 MEP seats the UK is losing as a result of Brexit – 27 seats will be redistributed, though not one per state (Lithuania and Latvia will not get any additional MEP seats, for instance).
The European Parliament itself will contract as a result of the UK's departure, too, from the current 751 seats, to 705 seats.
This year's general election and European elections, the latter held over two rounds in late May, are so close together that some overlap has been inevitable, including in terms of potential candidates and with discussions about electoral outdoor advertising, which was banned from 23 January in accordance with Estonian electoral law.
Estonian MEPs sit with political groupings at the European Parliament – for example whilst Indrek Tarand is an independent as noted, he sits with the European Greens. Yana Toom and Urmas Paet, despite being from different parties at home, both sit with the Alliance of Liberal Democrats for Europe (ALDE).
Kantar Emor's polls survey around 1,000 people between the ages of 18 and 84.
Editor: Andrew Whyte