The town hall in Tallinn, Estonia’s capital. Photo credit: Flickr/Jorge Láscar (CC BY 2.0)
Freedom House Rating
October 17, 2021
By March 5, 2023
March 3, 2019
October 15, 2017
Estonia will hold municipal elections on October 17, 2021. Voters will elect municipal councils across the country.
Estonia is a poster child for a successful post-communist transition to democracy. The country holds regular elections deemed free and fair, with transitions of power.
The last elections to the Riigikogu (parliament) were in March 2019. Kaja Kallas’ liberal Reform Party won the most seats, but incumbent Prime Minister Juri Ratas pulled together a coalition with his Centre Party, the conservative Isamaa (Fatherland), and the far-right nationalist Conservative People’s Party (EKRE), despite having promised before the election that he would not do a deal with EKRE.
The Centre Party is nominally liberal but actually pro-Kremlin (although the party is a member of Renew Europe, the European party formerly known as the Alliance of Liberals and Democrat in Europe, it also has a cooperation protocol with Vladimir Putin’s United Russia). The liberal Estonia 200, newly formed at the time, did not win any seats but does plan to contest the upcoming local elections.
EKRE doubled its support from the previous elections and leader Mart Helme and his son Martin were both made ministers in the new government. Some are concerned about the presence of EKRE in the government coalition, and their espousal of homophobia, misogyny, and white supremacy. For example, both the younger and elder Helme flashed white supremacist hand gestures at their swearing-in.
Benjamin Bathke, Foreign Policy (July 18, 2019): Estonia Battles Its Elected Racists
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Updated October 15, 2020