It is all to play for in the aftermath of Estonia’s election which left the ruling Reform party best placed to form a coalition government. It claimed 31 seats in the 101-seat parliament, a big jump from the 19 it previously held. Up to now its main coalition partner has been the left-leaning Centre Party, which won 29 seats this time.
But Prime Minister Andrus Ansip has said all options remain open, adding that his party’s programme was closer to that of the nationalist Pro Patria-Res Publica bloc, which took 19 seats. The two largest parties are at odds over economic policy, particularly on the question of raising salaries for public sector workers. Centre backs the idea in the face of opposition from Reform. The Centre Party leader, Edgar Savisaar, has pledged higher wages and pensions for a nation that is still one of the poorest in the EU, despite its strong growth.
Economists say the Baltic country faces an overheating problem but Ansip has said he will not dampen growth in order to meet the conditions to adopt the euro.
The election was overshadowed by increased tensions with Russia, which may have helped Pro Patria. The tensions were sparked when parliament voted to remove a statue of a Red Army soldier from the centre of the capital, Tallinn, because it was a reminder of 50 years of Soviet rule. Russia called the plan, which Ansip backed, blasphemous to the memories of the fighters against fascism.