The results of the European Parliament election have been announced, with ruling party Reform Party claimed two seats in the European Parliament elections with one seat going to Centre Party, IRL, Social Democrats and Indrek Tarand as an independent.
Ethnically Russian politician Yana Toom caused an upset when he won the seat of the Eurosceptic Centre Party, ahead of all other politicians in her party, including longtime political heavyweight Edgar Savisaar and Jüri Ratas.
The six MEPs who will represent Estonia next term will be Andrus Ansip and Kaja Kallas (Reform Party), Indrek Tarand (independent), Marju Lauristin (Social Democrat), Yana Toom (Centre Party) and Tunne Kelam (IRL).
Ansip got 45,037 votes, Indrek Tarand got 43,490, Marju Lauristin got 26,871, Yana Toom got 25,263, Kaja Kallas got 21,504 votes and Tunne Kelam got 18,773 votes.
There were several other surprises including the fact that in IRL, Kelam handily beat Ergma, getting 2.5 times more votes and that Jüri Ratas was not the second-most popular Center Party candidate after Edgar Savisaar.
I am disappointed that Toom made it from Centre Party - Ansip
In a radio interview, ex-PM Andrus Ansip said that he was disappointed that Toom got in. Last year Toom made some controversial comments such as telling to a Russian journalist that the Estonian nation was dying out and making remarks that appeared to belittle the Estonian language.
Estonian PM Taavi Rõivas shared Ansip’s view. "I am a bit worried about what she will be saying about Estonia in Europe," he said about Toom who is seen as controversial among many Estonians due to what is seen as a somewhat pro-Moscow worldview.
Commenting her becoming a MEP, Toom said she was surprised as she became the Centre Party's only member of European Parliament in the new term.
Tunne Kelam of IRL, which finished third overall, called Yana Toom's election as the result of "irresponsible politics" on the part of Centre Party leader Edgar Savisaar.
Social Democrat Marju Lauristin said she was hopeful that Toom would be a constructive MEP for Estonia.
Low turnout benefited Reform Party, hurt Centre Party
The turnout in the European Parliament elections in Estonia on May 24 was low at 36.4 percent of eligible voters. The overall turnout in all EU member states was 43.11 percent or slightly higher than in previous European Parliament elections.
Tallinn University political scientist Tõnis Saarts says the low turnout is because of the lack of a major issue that appeals to voters, and the EP elections are only third in importance anyway for Estonians.
"The situation in Ukraine became the new normal" a few weeks before the election, and the Center Party - which some paint as the "pro-Russian party" due to reasons such as links with United Russia, didn't allow itself to be baited, he said. In 2009, on the other hand, the cause celebre was protesting against closed lists (where parties determine the order in which their candidates are seated) and many rallied behind independent Indrek Tarand, Saarts said.
Centre Party did well – Savisaar
In his post-election speech, Centre Party chairman Edgar Savisaar said that he is satisfied with the result because the party improved its result from last EP elections. Savisaar said that while 4 years ago Centre Party got 26% of all votes, this time it got 32.6% of all votes.
This was inaccurate because of the glitch in the Election Committee’s vote reporting system. In fact, Centre Party got 22.3% of all votes (Reform Party got 24.3%, IRL got 13,9%, SDE got 13.6% and Tarand got 13.2% of all votes).
Savisaar who himself got around 18,000 votes, added that Centre Party’s ethnic Estonian and Russian candidates attracted equal number of votes which shows that Centre Party represents all peple living in Estonia.