The World BrieflyMarch 07, 2023
The Fear and Fury
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Estonia’s ruling center-right party won Sunday’s parliamentary elections by a landslide, a victory that underscores ongoing support for Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, a staunch backer of Ukraine and a fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Telegraph reported Monday.
Results showed that Kallas’ Reform Party secured nearly 32 percent of the vote, while its populist rival, the Conservative People’s Party of Estonia (EKRE), came second with 16 percent.
The elections came against the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, tense relations between Tallinn and Moscow, as well as soaring inflation, the New York Times wrote.
Kallas has backed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the Estonian government has donated around 44 percent of its military budget to Ukraine. She has promised to raise military spending to at least three percent of the country’s gross domestic product and lower taxes on business.
In contrast, the EKRE has called for a curb to spending in Ukraine, help Estonians through economic hardships and warned that Estonia should not be “further escalating tensions” with Russia.
The Reform Party now needs to form a coalition with other rival parties to create a government. Kallas ruled out a coalition with the EKRE.
Her victory marks a major blow to Moscow’s hopes that voter fatigue over the war would eventually diminish European support for Ukraine. So far in Europe, that support for Ukraine is still seemingly strong, especially in the eastern countries, many of whom were under Russian control until the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. For example, in January, Czech voters elected former NATO general Petr Pavel as their next president and rejected his rival, who called for a softer line on Moscow.
Meanwhile, Slovak voters will face a similar decision in September, while Finland, which applied to join NATO after Russia invaded Ukraine, will head to the polls just next month.
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