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Far-Right on the Rise in Estonia

As predicted, the country’s anti-immigration party scored massive gains even as traditional parties still came out on top.

6 March 2019

As the dust settles after this past weekend’s election in Estonia, Europe has found itself faced with yet another country that has seen significant gains on the part of a populist, anti-immigration party.

 

The Eurosceptic far-right Estonian Conservative People's Party, EKRE, took 17.8 percent of the vote, which was more than double its result in the last election.

 

Compared to the seven seats the party garnered at the 2015 elections, EKRE won 19 seats by promising to slash income and excise taxes, as well as promoting anti-immigration messages, The Guardian writes.

 

While Estonia has experienced strong economic growth and low unemployment, the vast regional differences in the country have created a growing number of voters willing to support EKRE’s promise to shake up traditional politics, EurActiv writes.

 

That message resonates with those tired of seeing the two main Estonian parties, the Reform Party and the Center Party, take turns in power. This time around, Reform gained 34 seats in the 101-seat parliament, winning over the governing Center Party.  

 

That has put the Reform party leader, Kaja Kallas (pictured), in the position to become the country’s first female prime minister, Reuters reports.

 

EurActiv quotes Kallas saying to her supporters, “I have to admit I prepared two speeches. Now starts the real work to form the government and start to govern this country more intelligently.” 

 

A 41-year-old lawyer and former European Parliament member, Kallas is faced with difficult negotiations to establish a coalition government as the country’s main rival parties, her Reform Party and Ratas’ traditionally pro-Russian Center Party, have not governed together since 2003, Reuters writes.

 

 

  • Mart Helme, the far-right party leader, has promoted a coalition with both the Center and Isamaa parties in order to command a 57-seat majority, The Guardian cites the public broadcaster ETV/ERR as reporting.

 

  • Should Kallas become the first female prime minister of Estonia, she will work with the country’s first female head of state, Kersti Kaljulai, the Guardian writes.

 

  • Estonia’s Russian minority, which makes up roughly one-fourth of the country’s population of only 1.3 million people, is hoping that the Center Party can help retain the current Estonian- and Russian-language education system. Both the Reform and EKRE parties have pledged to scrap the Russian language as a medium of instruction, The Guardian reports.
Compiled by Rose Joy Smith

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Join us to learn more about the connections between investigative reporting and Solutions Journalism and discover the impact that bringing the “whole” story has on communities. Kathryn’s keynote speech will be followed by a panel discussion on bringing the solutions perspective into reporting practices with Nikita Poljakov, deputy editor in chief of the business daily Hospodářské noviny. Nikita is also head of the project “Nejsi sám” (You are not alone), which uses the solutions approach to tackle the issue of male suicide. The main program will be followed by an informal wine reception. 

 

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