Estonia Municipal Elections: October 17, 2021

The town hall in Tallinn, Estonia’s capital. Photo credit: Flickr/Jorge Láscar (CC BY 2.0)

Freedom House Rating

Government Type
Parliamentary   Republic
1.2 million
Municipal Elections
October 17, 2021
Parliamentary Elections
By March 5, 2023
Parliamentary Elections
March 3, 2019
Municipal Elections
October 15, 2017

Estonia will hold municipal elections on October 17, 2021. Voters will elect municipal councils across the country.

Political Context

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 2019 Parliamentary Elections in Estonia and the Political Landscape

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

In addition, 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.

Government Collapse and Removal of Far-Right from Coalition

However, the Ratas government collapsed over a corruption scandal in January 2021. Centre Party subsequently entered into an agreement with Reform in which Kaja Kallas would become prime minister (the first woman to hold the post in Estonia), and EKRE would not be part of the government. However, EKRE remains a potent political force.

Curated News and Analysis

BNN (February 10, 2021): Selecting of Estonian President in direct elections rejected in parliament

Charlie Duxbury, Politico (February 1, 2021): Estonia’s far-right leader is down but not out

Euractiv/Reuters (January 26, 2021): Kallas becomes Estonia’s first female PM, far right out of government

Patrick Mulholland, Financial Times (January 25, 2021): Estonia leads world in making digital voting a reality

Benjamin Bathke, Foreign Policy (July 18, 2019): Estonia Battles Its Elected Racists

21votes does not necessarily agree with all of the opinions expressed in the linked articles; rather, our goal is to curate a wide range of voices. Furthermore, none of the individuals or organizations referenced have reviewed 21votes’ content, and their inclusion should not be taken to imply that they endorse us in any way. More on our approach here

Updated February 22, 2021

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