Estonia: what does Kallas’ election victory mean?

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has won a clear victory in the country’s parliamentary elections, with her liberal Reform Party claiming 37 of the 101 seats in parliament. The right-wing populist opposition party Ekre came second with 17 mandates. Europe’s press comments on the results, also with an eye to Kallas’ clear stance on Russia.

Eesti Päevaleht (EE) /

A role model for Europe

Eesti Päevaleht is delighted that after the Czech presidential election Estonia has now also shown that the advance of populists in Europe is not inevitable:

“A record number of citizens have refuted the narrative that the self-proclaimed national conservatives would take over the government. ... The most important factor is the war against Ukraine launched by Russia’s ruler Vladimir Putin. Ekre underestimated society’s solidarity with Ukraine. ... At the same time Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has proven to be a strong advocate for Estonia, especially abroad.”

taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

The reward for unfaltering support for Ukraine

It was Kallas’ resolute stance vis-à-vis Russia that scored her the most points, the taz believes:

“With her dictum ‘we could be next’, Kallas has positioned herself firmly on Ukraine’s side without any ifs, ands or buts. While others were still talking about helmets for the Ukrainian army and underwear for their own troops, she placed herself at the head of those in Europe who, for example, strongly advocated sanctions against Moscow. This clear course obviously went down well with voters.”

Barbara Oertel
Newsweek România (RO) /

Estonians remain loyal

This attitude towards Ukraine will endure in Estonia, says Newsweek Romania:

“Not only have Estonians most certainly not grown weary of the ongoing confrontation between the Ukrainian and Russian armed forces. ... Not only has Estonia always disapproved of Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine; it has, moreover, supplied Kyiv with more weapons — relative to its population — than any other country. And this with the approval of the majority of Estonians, as demonstrated once again by the electoral defeat of the Ekre party, which had accused the government led by Kaja Kallas of depleting the country’s military stocks — an exaggeration that the Estonian voters clearly punished.”

Ion Petrescu
Õhtuleht (EE) /

Voters want a liberal government

Kallas should seek backing from new coalition partners, Õhtuleht demands:

“In these internationally turbulent times it would be good if the power vacuum were not allowed to drag on and a government capable of acting comes into office as soon as possible. The most comfortable option would be to continue the current coalition. But there is no reason to reward Isamaa [8 mandates], which has lost a third of its seats, by complying with the disproportionate demands it has already presented. It would make even less sense to join forces with the loser of this election, the Centre Party, when the voters have severely curtailed its mandate. The alternative would be to bring the new [liberal] party Eesti 200 on board.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

A long to-do list

The Süddeutsche Zeitung describes the challenges Kallas now faces:

“In Estonia, too, there are fears of social decline and frustration over the high inflation rate. It was not only the right-wing extremists who went hunting for votes with simplistic social promises. The Social Democrats and the Centre Party also maintained that Estonians must not be forgotten amid all the spending on Ukraine and defence, stressing that strategies for families and companies in distress must be developed. Finally, Kallas must take care of the Russian-speaking minority, some of whom voted for her party but some of whom are also completely beyond the reach of Estonian politics.”

Viktoria Grossmann