Estonia’s Ruling Party Wins Election

Estonia’s Ruling Party Wins ElectionEstonia’s Ruling Party Wins Election

Estonia’s ruling Reform Party held a narrow lead in the Baltic country’s elections Sunday. Prime Minister Taavi Roivas, whose party has 30 seats, is set to form a coalition in the 101-member parliament.

A free-marketeer, strongly pro-NATO and the youngest European Union leader at 35, Roivas called for an “Estonian-minded government” in the run up to the election.

“The Reform Party is the 2015 winner of the parliamentary elections,” Roivas declared on the ETV public television station on Monday, BBC reported.

Roivas’ party claimed 27.7 percent with most of the votes counted, down from 28.6% at the last parliamentary elections in 2011.

The pro-Russian Center Party took 24.8 percent of the votes, winning one more seat to take them to 27 in total.

The Social Democrats, who have been Reform’s coalition partner, hold 15 seats after losing four while the IRL party lost nine seats to take them to 14. Polls taken before the election showed both parties neck and neck.

Analysts said Reform could face some difficulty in forming a new coalition, with parliament now split between six parties rather than the previous four.

The two newcomers - a free-market liberal party and an anti-immigration conservative party - won 15 seats between them. Asked whether he would contemplate forming a coalition with the Center Party, Roivas said “definitely not.”

The country’s political debate has been dominated by economic issues and concerns over defense due to the Ukraine conflict.

The Center Party leader, Edgar Saavisar, favors a friendlier approach to Moscow, and has previously suggested that Russia’s annexation of Crimea could be legitimate.

About a quarter of Estonia’s 1.3 million population are ethnic Russians, many of whom are Center Party supporters.

The country is a pioneer of electronic voting, with a reported one in five casting their vote online.