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Estonia Government Won Re-Election Because Russian Minority Can't Vote

Estonia's ruling Reform Party won the election over the Centrist Party favored by the country's ethnic Russian minority by just 16,000 votes. However, nearly 100,000 ethnic Russians in Estonia have no right to vote

The article originally appeared at German Economic News. Translated for RI by Anita Zalaldinova.

The Government Liberal Party of Estonia won the parliamentary elections with a narrow majority.  But victory was possible only because nearly 100,000 ethnic Russians have no right to vote – a clear democratic deficit in the EU country.

<figcaption>Russians are still voiceless in Estonia</figcaption>
Russians are still voiceless in Estonia

The ruling Reform Party received 30 of 101 seats in parliament. It is closely followed by the leftist Centre Party (27 seats), which advocates closer relations with Russia. Traditional voters of the Centre Party, members of the Russian minority in Estonia, who according to the CIA World Factbook make up 24.8 percent of the residents of Estonia. Centre Party is followed by the co-ruling Social Democrats with 15 seats.

Nearly 900,000 Estonians were eligible to vote: in absolute terms, 158,977 voters chose the Reform Party. Approximately 16,500 people less – 142,456 voters  –voted for the Centre Party, the Estonian Onlinzeitung Delfi reports.

However, there are 91,000 stateless persons in Estonia, that corresponds to approximately 6.8 percent of the population. The vast majority of them are native Russian speakers , who do not have voting rights as owners of ‘grey passports’, reports the Estonian public broadcaster ERR .

The coalition government has lost its absolute majority in Estonia. The liberal Reform Party of Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas and the co-ruling Social Democrats lost seven seats.

In neighbouring Latvia the Russian-speaking minority is also legally largely underprivileged . They also have no right to vote, and they are largely excluded from receiving official status. Services provided by public institutions are limited for them.

This situation is incomprehensible in an EU country. Estonia is the most developed country because they allow e-voting – but the country still has not made an important step towards modern democracy.

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