TALLINN - The Mayor of Tallinn Edgar Savisaar has resorted to text messaging his electorate in a bid to attract more votes ahead of the June 6 European Parliament elections.
It was reported on June 1 that Savisaar sent an early morning text message reading "Rise and shine, vote 104, your Edgar" en-masse to local residents.
The move is seen as yet another sign of Estonia's increasingly e-savvy culture.
However, critics have accused the mayor, who is leader of the Center Right party, of manipulating modern media for personal gain.
Savisaar is also behind other e-initiatives including an online opinion poll asking Estonians to vote on opposing city investment projects - either a city theater or cultural house.
Estonia has been at the forefront of bringing government and governance into the digital arena.
Despite EU polling stations not opening until June 4, many Estonians have jumped the gun by voting online.
So-called "i-voting" (Internet voting) which opened on May 28, first took place in local elections in 2005, and was also used in the 2007 general elections, when 3.5 percent of voters used the online facility.
Estonia is among the 27 countries in the EU due to vote for the 736 members of the European Parliament this week.
Estonia, one of the EU's smallest member states with a population of 1.4 million, will elect six MEPs in this year's elections.
Although the election procedures are to a large extent shaped according to national law and tradition in each member state, each must follow EU regulations to ensure transparency of procedures.
Voting is by proportional representation but each member state chooses whether to use an open or closed list system. On an open list, voters show a preference for one or more candidate. On a closed list, the political parties put their candidates in order of preference and the voter backs one party.
Savisaar, who is campaigning under the banner "Change," has been a fierce critic of Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, who recently survived a leadership struggle.
In comments published in Eesti Ekspress Savisaar claimed time had shown Ansip as an unreliable leader who had failed to keep his promises.
According to Savisaar, Ansip's only plan is to beat the "euro drum" by making false assurances it will rescue the economy.
"The fact is that it is not a miracle cure that removes all our problems. You can join the euro zone only if you have a strong and sustainable economy," Savisaar said.
He stressed Estonia's transition to the euro was not yet a realistic goal.
"My question is whether transition to euro is realistic or is it only a pretext to justify budget cuts?" Savisaar said.
"If the budget is cut, consumption is affected. This in turn will bring less revenue in the budget that causes a new need to cut the budget. So it's a vicious never-ending circle that Ansip is in," he said.
Savisaar has also been critical of the Estonian government's lack of an economic stimulus plans.
"We are patching budget holes, not investing in the future," he said.
Savisaar served as prime minister from 1990-1992.
He resigned as interior minister in disgrace in 1995 after allegations he had made secret tape recordings of his political rivals.
Savisaar's Center Right party was part of the former coalition government then headed by Prime Minister Siim Kallas, of the right-of-centre Reform Party.