General elections in Estonia: Ukraine, the economy are on the agenda

TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — Polls have opened in Estonia for a general election that the center-right Reform Party…

TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — Polls have opened in Estonia’s general election for Prime Minister Kai Kalas’ center-right Reform Party. one of the most open supporters of Ukraine in Europe, is the favorite to win.

She faced a challenge from the populist opposition party EKRE, which seeks to limit the influence of the Baltic nation on the Ukrainian crisis and blame the government for the economic misery of citizens.

More than 900,000 people are eligible to vote on Sunday to elect representatives to Estonia’s 101-seat parliament (Rijgikogu) from a range of nine political parties. Almost half of eligible voters have already voted early. Many Estonians prefer to vote electronically, voting from their computer.

The main topics of the election were national security after neighboring Russia’s attack on Ukraine and socio-economic problems, especially the rising cost of living.

During the last year of the war, 45-year-old Kalas became one of the most open supporters of Ukraine in Europe. In the country’s top job from 2021, she is seeking a second term, bolstered by her international calls for sanctions against Moscow.

Five parties are now represented in the parliament. Kalas’ reform party leads the current three-party coalition government with the small conservative party “Fatherland” and the Social Democrats

A Baltic country of 1.3 million people bordering Russia to the east, Estonia broke away from the Soviet Union in 1991 and took a distinctly western course, joining NATO and the European Union.

Polls show that the center-right liberal reform party Kalas is likely to win more votes than any other party. Her main rival is Martin Helme, head of the far-right nationalist EKRE party, who blames Kallas for the country’s 18.6% inflation rate — one of the highest in the EU — and accuses her of undermining Estonia’s defenses by giving weapons to Ukraine.

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