Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 46

Three allied conservative parties–the Pro Patria Union, the Reform Party, and the Moderates–won a total of 53 out of 101 parliamentary seats in Estonia’s parliamentary election held yesterday. Pro Patria is led by former Prime Minister Mart Laar, the Reform Party by former foreign minister and Central Bank governor Siim Kallas, and the Moderates by the tandem of former Prime Minister Andres Tarand and former Foreign Minister Toomas Ilves. These parties’ platform–consistent with their earlier record in government–calls for the continuation of classical liberal free market economics and a tax system designed to maximize incentives to investment and private enterprise.

The Center Party and its ally, the Country People’s Party, both classified as left-of-center, won twenty-eight and seven seats, respectively. These parties’ main campaign plank called for the introduction of a progressive income tax to finance social protection programs. Country People’s Party leader Arnold Ruutel is a former communist who joined the national liberation movement of the late 1980s and chaired Estonia’s first post-Soviet parliament. Center Party leader Edgar Savisaar, former chairman of the Popular Front and a former prime minister, has since come to be suspected of populist and authoritarian inclinations. The main governing party, the “centrist” Coalition Party of Prime Minister Mart Siimann, won only seven seats. The Coalition Party’s image had recently been damaged by factional disputes and some accusations of corruption. The United People’s Party–which is led by Viktor Andreev is the main Russian party in Estonia–won six seats.

Voter turnout was 55 percent. Overall, the election’s outcome promises to maintain and even improve the country’s attractive investment climate, accelerate its progress toward membership in the European Union, and spur its effort to meet the criteria for NATO membership (AP, March 8).