Estonian parliamentary elections were held yesterday. The results were slightly less than the overwhelming triumph some had predicted for the Reform Party, but Reform won the elections just the same.
The party of Prime Minister Andrus Ansip gained just two seats in the 101-member body compared to its preelection share. Reform now has a mandate for 33 seats, and will continue its role as the largest party in parliament.
Despite the victory of euro adoption and the country's return to growth following the economic crash, Reform's performance was only slightly better than in 2007. This year it earned 28.6 percent of the vote. Four years ago, it earned 27.8 percent of the vote.
Edgar Savisaar's Centre Party remains the second largest party in parliament. They secured 26 seats for the next four years, a loss of three seats. Centre did well in Tallinn, where Savisaar is mayor, and in Ida Virumaa county, where the party received more than half of all votes cast. Despite Savisaar's preelection scandal, he was also the greatest vote getter of the election. This is a bit of a dilemma for Centre going forward: on one hand, they have a leader who most other parties refuse to include in a coalition government, on the other hand, he's their most popular figure.
The Mart Laar-led conservatives Isamaa ja Res Publica Liit (translated as the Union of Pro Patria and Res Publica but referred to here as IRL), gained four seats in the Estonian parliament. They now hold 23 seats. This was a good showing for them, as it shows IRL has managed to hang onto voters while being in a coalition with a more popular party with a similar political outlook. To me, this refutes the idea that Estonia is headed to a two-party political system.
The biggest victors of the night were Sven Mikser's Social Democrats, who won 19 seats, nine more than they held from 2007 to 2011. Mikser won the vote in Järva and Viljandi counties, where he topped the list, but the party did well elsewhere. For instance, SDE won 26 percent of the vote in the rural, southern counties of Võru, Valga, and Põlva. They also nearly tied Reform for second place in Ida Viru county, where both captured slightly over 15 percent of the vote.
I saw an interesting article where incoming SDE MP Jevgeni Ossinovski claimed that SDE was the "only political party that represented Estonian Russians' interest." That used to be Savisaar's line. Maybe some Estonian Russians no longer believe it.
Of course, the Estonian Green Party failed to pass the 5 percent threshold to secure seats in parliament. They eked out 3.8 percent of the vote. The Greens were plagued by leadership conflicts over the past few years, and their effort to go after basically every voter doomed them as it put them into competition with everybody. It's one thing to try and steal some votes from SDE or Centre. It's another to try and steal votes from Reform and IRL and SDE and Centre.
The People's Union (Rahvaliit) also didn't make it into parliament, but they were largely moribund after imploding in recent years. Former party leaders Karel Rüütli and Jaak Allik will be in the next parliament though, this time as representatives of SDE.