TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — The center-right Reform Party of Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, one of Europe’s most outspoken supporters of Ukraine, overwhelmingly won the Baltic country’s general election, while a far-right populist challenger lost seats in a vote that focused on national security and the economy.
Preliminary returns from a completed ballot count showed the Reform Party, the senior partner in the outgoing three-party coalition government, received 31.2% of the vote — the biggest share in Sunday's election.
That translates into 37 seats at Estonia's 101-seat Parliament, or Riigikogu, an increase of three seats from the 2019 election.
“This result, which is not final yet, will give us a strong mandate to put together a good government,” Kallas told her party colleagues and jubilant supporters at a hotel in the capital, Tallinn.
Kallas, prime minister since 2021, faced a challenge from the far-right populist EKRE party, which seeks to limit the Baltic nation’s exposure to Russia's war in Ukraine, and blames the current government for Estonia’s high inflation rate.
EKRE took second place with 16.1% of votes and 17 seats in the legislature, a decrease of two seats compared to four years ago. The Center Party, which is traditionally favored by Estonia's sizable ethnic Russian minority, was third with 15.3% of the vote.
The biggest surprise of the election, where more than 900,000 people were eligible to vote, was the emergence of Eesti 200, a small liberal centrist party, which won 14 seats and 13.3% of the vote.
National security in the wake of neighboring Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and socio-economic issues, particularly the rising cost of living, were the main campaign themes of the election.
Preliminary results suggested six parties passed the 5% threshold of support needed to be in parliament.
Voter turnout was 63.7%, a rate that is on par with the previous election, according to initial information.
This story has been corrected to show that Eesti 200 won 14 seats and 13.3% of the vote, not 14%.