Estonia is joining a broader trend in the Baltic-Nordic region, as many right-wing parties are growing and entering into positions of power. In this Baltic state, the nationalist Conservative People’s Party of Estonia (EKRE) is polling high as the nation heads for elections on Sunday.
According to a poll from Norstat, the centrist liberal Reform would receive 29% of the vote, and EKRE would follow with 21.7%. While the results predicted for Reform are identical to results from the 2019 election, EKRE would be gaining three points.
If the polls are correct, a new governing coalition could be forming.
Political commentators speak broadly about two potential coalitions: one led by the centrist-liberal Reform party, and the other potentially led by EKRE.
The projections are problematic and uncertain, but it’s possible for EKRE to head a coalition of 52 seats, a slim majority in Estonia’s 101-seat parliament. Europe Elects tweeted seat projections from Norstat on Thursday, February 23rd:
EKRE’s rise matches broader trends in the Baltic and Nordic region, where fractured political scenes and a rising preference for right-wing ideas have pushed many nationalist parties into government. In Sweden, the right-wing Sweden Democrats came second in the last autumn’s elections and backs the current government, while in Latvia the National Alliance party is a part of the conservative ruling coalition. In Finland, the nationalist True Finns Party is polling higher than the ruling Social Democratic Party, with elections set for early April.
A possible explanation may be the fact these countries sit on Russia’s doorstep, and right-wing parties, who have been the most consistent advocates of a strong military policy, now stand vindicated by the invasion of Ukraine.
This certainly appears to be the case in Estonia, as Jaak Madison—an EKRE MEP—criticised the current government for its effort to make up for lost time. “We are talking about a situation where we need to restore and increase our defence capabilities, racing against time to fill gaps that have been overlooked for 20 years,” he said in a pre-election televised debate.
In an interview with news media ERR, EKRE leader Martin Helme displayed some tempered optimism when asked about his party’s prospects. While he was confident they would gain seats, he was cautious about making any predictions, saying “my sort of general view of politics is that it’s never as bad as you feel, and it’s never as good as you hope.”
With nearly a week to go there is still much to play for. As one analyst points out, 10% to 15% of voters only decide in the last week—if not in the polling booth—and Estonia especially has a history of last-minute swings.
Whether it will swing in favour of EKRE will be revealed next Monday morning.