Estonia elections cause crisis for EU as populists to soar ‘we’re not like the French’

Sunday, March 3, 2019
By Paul Martin

THE EUROPEAN Union is likely to suffer another huge blow later today as Estonia’s populist party looks set to make significant gains in the country’s general election.

Sun, Mar 3, 2019

The success of populist parties is being fearfully monitored by Brussels ahead of May’s European Parliament elections when the bloc is worried eurosceptics could upset the EU’s order. Estonians began voting this morning with incumbent centre-left Prime Minister Juri Ratas the frontrunner but his hopes of forming a majority government are expected to be frustrated by the anti-EU Conservative People’s Party of Estonia (EKRE) which is predicted to more than double its vote. The party is pushing a nationalist agenda and has seen a surge in support after promising to shake up the established politics with a fiercely anti-immigrant message.

Support for EKRE has soared since the migrant crisis in counties furthest from the capital where many of Estonia’s 1.3 million people feel exasperated with the traditional parties.

EKRE is predicted to increase its total number of seats in the Estonian Parliament from eight to 20 after a campaign calling for ‘Estxit’ which was backed by about 10,000 people who took to the streets of Tallinn last week in torch-lit march.

Entrepreneur Mati Vaartnou, 52, who lives one the distant island of Saaremaa, said: “An increasing number of people understand that the current parties will not change anything.”

Meanwhile Estonian singer and composer Tajo Kadajas, 65, said he voted for anti-EU EKRE because he fears his country is losing its identity.

Mr Kadajas told the Daily Telegraph: “The EU has forced quotas on us, to attract thousands of migrants.”

He added: “I voted EKRE because they stand for the preservation of our nation and our culture.”

EKRE is building on far-right support which has upset politics across Europe, particularly in Britain, France, Austria and in Italy which is ruled by a populist coalition government.

The party’s eurosceptic rhetoric, which has resonated strongly with Estonians, has proved so divisive that many other parties in Tallinn have pledged to exclude it from coalition discussions.

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