EKRE getting Russian support due to Islam issue, says MEP

MEP Jaak Madison (EKRE).
MEP Jaak Madison (EKRE). Source: Kairit Leibold/ERR

Russian-speaking Estonians do not want "Muslim neighbors," Conservative Peoples Party of Estonia (EKRE) MEP Jaak Madison has claimed.

Speaking to online Finnish news agency STT, Madison argued that this was a factor in Russian-speaking voters choosing EKRE, a party most closely identified with populist Estonian nationalism, at the polls

Madison noted that on this score, the two language group communities were in accord, in his opinion.

"Estonians don't even want immigrants from former states of the Soviet Union, let alone from Middle Eastern or arab cultures," Madison said in the STT piece, BNS reports.

"That's something we have in common with Russians – they're [Russian] Orthodox, they don't want Muslims for neighbors [either]," he went on.

EKRE polled just under 18 percent at the March 3 general election, winning 19 seats, up from seven before the polls. However it was most popular party only in the two southernmost of Estonia's 12 electoral districts – Pärnu County and Võru, Valga and Põlva Counties.

At the May 26 European elections, where Estonia was treated a single electoral district, Madison was the only EKRE member to pick up a seat, polling just under 7 percent.

Estonia's Islamic community is one of the smallest in Europe, and includes those from parts of the former Soviet Union, such as Azerbaijan, where Islam is practised to a significant extent. A cultural center has existed in Tallinn for over 10 years.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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