President Kaljulaid calls European elections at school presentation

President Kersti Kaljulaid  speaking at Tabasalu upper secondary school.
President Kersti Kaljulaid speaking at Tabasalu upper secondary school. Source: Mattias Tammet / presidendi kantselei

President Kersti Kaljulaid has formally announced the European elections. The elections are due to take place over two rounds in late May.

Speaking at Tabasalu upper-secondary school, the president said that she was invoking section 3 of the European Parliament Election Act 2002, the national legislation regulating the election of MEPs in Estonia. Estonia acceded to the EU in 2004.

''The elections can't take place until they have been announced,'' Ms Kaljulaid said at her presentation at the school.

''I therefore, on the basis of section 3, subsection 3 of the European Parliament Election Act, declare elections to the European Parliament will take place on 26 May, 2019,'' she continued.

First post-Brexit election

The law stipulates that the Estonian head of state must declare European elections a minimum of three months before election day.

The European elections, which follow close behind Estonia's own general election on 3 March, are the first to take place without the participation of the UK. The number of MEP seats has thus been reduced to 705 (from 751) for this election; 27 of the UK's former 74 MEP seats have been redistributed amongst the EU member states, with Estonia getting an additional seat, bringing the total to seven.

The president's speech also gave Tabasalu upper secondary pupils a glimpse of the democratic process in action, and the president urged students to participate in elections at the national level, as well as engaging with the local community.

The president recommended her audience choose a politician whose views they are familiar with and support, as well as to weigh-up their pre-election promises.

Importance of Estonia's voting technologies

''The nation when acting as a whole cannot err, and will get that parliament that it needs,'' she said.

Since the voting age in Estonia is 18, older upper secondary students will be eligible to vote in the general and European elections.

The President also spoke about the technological change and the rejuvenation in politics which those currently in school will have to face in the future. Estonia is already a world leader in new technologies and in creating legislative frameworks that will enable Estonia to be an early adopter of such technologies, a position she stressed Estonia ought to maintain.

"You need to keep this up - an understanding of new technology which makes Estonia a sandbox, where new ideas are tried," she said. Estonia's online voting technology has been presented globally and been used in several past elections. In the advanced voting which has already begun for the general election, the number of e-votes outstripped more traditional in-person methods by nearly six to one as at Thursday evening.

The president has also appeared at the Lasnamäe upper secondary school, presenting a social sciences lesson in both cases.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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