Estonia posts 26.7 percent turnout in first European election
13 June 2004
Some 26.7 percent of Estonia's electorate turned out to vote in the Baltic republic's first European Parliament elections on Sunday, about half the turnout recorded in last year's national elections, authorities said.
Estonia's National Electoral Committee said after polling stations closed that 233,450 of the 874,402 registered voters took part in the vote.
The participation in legislative elections in March 2003 was twice as high with 58 percent of Estonians casting their votes.
"There are three reasons for the low participation," Heiki Sibul, chairman of the electoral committee told Estonia's Channel 2 television.
"First, there have been several elections within the last couple of years, second, people are not used to vote in summer and the third, the European parliament issues may not be so close to people's hearts," he added.
The first results are expected at around 11:00 pm (2000 GMT).
Pre-election opinion polls have suggested the normally minor, pro-EU, Social Democratic party, would take two out of Estonia's six seats for the European Parliament.
The liberal Reformist party and the governing rightist Res Publica party of Estonian Prime Minister Juhan Parts would be behind with one seat each, the polls predicted.
The left-leaning People's Union, a coalition partner, and the centre-right Pro Patria party were vying for the final seats, they added.
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