Kaja Kallas, the prime minister of Estonia, won a convincing election victory despite opposition from a far-right party that attacked her for supporting Ukraine and soaring inflation.
The Estonian Electoral Commission’s preliminary results show that Kallas’ Reform party received 31.2% of the vote. The Centre party of former premier Juri Ratas placed third with 15.3%, trailing the nationalist EKRE party by 16.1%.
The prime minister outperformed polls and looked to be in a strong position to form a coalition majority. She has gained popularity both at home and abroad for her unwavering support for Ukraine. On Monday, she will meet with the party’s leadership and hold a press conference.
She admitted to broadcaster ETV, “I wasn’t expecting such a strong result. Let’s wait until the results are final before calculating and formulating coalition proposal ideas.
The victory of Kallas gives her the authority to stick to her promise of preserving Estonia’s transatlantic course as a dedicated member of the European Union and NATO.
Estonia, a Baltic country bordering Russia to the east, has been one of Moscow’s harshest critics under Kallas’ premiership, giving Kyiv more weapons per person than any other nation.
Voters, according to 45-year-old Kallas, must decide between a “friendly, progressive, pro-Western” nation and a “isolated, bitter” one.
With a turnout of about 64%, Estonians turned out in record numbers for the elections. For the first time, over 50% of votes were cast online.
There are probably several ways for Kallas to set up a government. She is on track to win a majority in the 101-seat parliament with her current coalition, which includes the conservative Fatherland party and Estonia’s Social Democrats. Another contender is Estonia 200, a liberal-conservative newcomer to the assembly.
Party leaders were urged to respect the vote and act quickly by Estonian President Alar Karis, who holds a ceremonial position and will name a candidate to seek a majority.
In a statement, Karis wished that time would not be wasted. “A prolonged period of uncertainty is not favored by the current circumstances.”
Older and rural voters were courted by EKRE, which has accused Kallas’s administration of “warmongering” and depleting the nation’s military reserves. Disputation over extremist remarks made by EKRE members rocked its tenure in office under Ratas from 2019 to 2021.
Martin Helme, the leader of EKRE and a former finance minister, questioned the validity of Estonia’s online voting process and threatened to challenge the results in court.