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Estonia votes with parties divided on Ukrainian aid

On Sunday, Estonians will vote for a new parliament for Ukrainian aid, and the results might help nationalists on the extreme right who have argued against sending more weapons to Ukraine. According to surveys, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas’ center-right Reform Party is going to win, but it’s probable that she’ll need to create a coalition to continue in office.

A poll conducted in February by Kantar Emor predicted that the party would get 28.7 percent of the vote, with the far-right EKRE coming in at 18.2 percent.

The Centre Party received 13.4 percent, Estonia 200 received 13.4 percent, the Social Democrats received 10.1 percent, and Isamaa (Fatherland) received 8.5 percent in the poll conducted in February.

Estonia, a republic of 1.3 million people on Russia’s border, will vote on Sunday to fill all 101 of its parliamentary seats.

The EU and NATO member of the Baltic region has been in the forefront of international requests for further military assistance to Ukraine in the face of Russia’s invasion over the last year.

About one percent of Estonia’s gross domestic product (GDP) is being donated towards Ukraine’s military right now, making Estonia the country with the largest such donation in relation to its GDP.

For Kallas, “we support an open, welcoming, Western-minded, European, clever nation” was the perfect answer while speaking to AFP.

“My greatest rival feels that we shouldn’t assist Ukraine, shouldn’t support Ukraine, should just seek for our self-interest,” she stated.

Martin Helme, head of the EKRE, has said that Tallinn shouldn’t “further escalate tensions” with Russia.

In an effort to safeguard Estonian employment, EKRE has advocated for a reduction in immigration and a halt to the acceptance of Ukrainian refugees.

However, Estonia has one of the highest inflation rates in the EU, at 18.6% in January compared to the same month a year before, contributing to the worsening cost of living problem there.

The Centre Party, which has always enjoyed support from Estonia’s sizable Russian-speaking minority, has backed the government’s stance on both Ukraine and Russia.

Some Russian speakers, about a quarter of the population, have been discouraged from voting as a result.

The supporters of Reform are mostly business people and young professionals who identify with the party’s center-right liberalism.

It intends to adopt a bill legalising same-sex civil unions and has pledged to increase military expenditure to at least three percent of GDP.

The Centre Party, a centrist political group, has pledged to increase spending on public works and low-cost housing if elected.

A partnership between Reform and Estonia 200 and the Social Democrats is feasible, as is a cooperation between Reform and Centre and Isamaa, say political scientists.

The likelihood of EKRE being accepted into the government is, however, very low.

Elections begin at 9 a.m. local time (7 a.m. GMT) and end at 8 p.m. ( 6 p.m. GMT), with results starting to trickle in on Monday morning.

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