Papers not surprised by election results

  • 2005-10-19
  • Baltic News Service
TALLINN - Regardless of the all-time low turnout among voters, the outcome of Estonia's municipal elections and the Center Party's triumph was along the lines of major dailies' forecasts.

In fact, the Eesti Paevaleht stated that rarely in the past have pre-election opinion polls been so accurate as those conducted ahead of Oct. 17. "Just like predicted, it was the Center Party that triumphed, securing an absolute majority in the council of the capital city," the paper wrote.

Such success is unprecedented in Estonia, the paper continued, because it gives absolute power in the capital to one party, which is free to decide whether it wants to govern the city alone or bring in some other party as well.

"If the Center Party wants absolute power and as weak an opposition as possible in running Tallinn, it will probably make the proposal to form a coalition to the Reform Party, the runner-up in the elections," the daily observed.

The Center Party secured 32 seats on the 63-member Tallinn City Council.

The lowest ever voter turnout in municipal elections was no surprise, the Postimees wrote. A similar result was predicted but hopes pinned on e-voting or someone's protest votes did not come true.

All surveys clearly showed that in Estonia, there was a fairly firm and steadily increasing contingent of people who take no interest in politics, the Postimees opined. "Active voting obviously cannot be raised sharply by traditional methods. It would be wiser to see to it that the number of people taking part in elections doesn't continue shrinking," the paper said.

Voter turnout in the Oct. 16 polls was 47 percent.

The editorial of SL Ohtuleht commented that the exit polls released on the day of the ballot did not inspire people who, so far, had no intention of going to the polls but were alarmed by Center's success to turn out.

"The Center's success in Tallinn, originally seen as mountain-high, melted like spring snow as the count progressed," the paper wrote.

As SL Ohtuleht saw it, the outcome of the polls forced the Center Party to reckon with other parties after all. "In view of the political culture in Estonia, this is vital, as is the existence of a strong opposition, especially if [Centrist leader and Minister of Economy Edgar] Savisaar returns as mayor of Tallinn," the paper wrote.

For the second time since European Parliament elections, Res Publica suffered a painful defeat, SL Ohtuleht notes. "All other parties improved their results at their expense. But next to Savisaar's triumph, this is nothing," the paper says.