Estonian parties are planning to spend 3 million kroons ($187,500) to 5 million kroons on the coming local elections. There is no concrete upper limit as additional spending will depend upon the competitors' campaigns, say parties who have unveiled their budgets.
The coalition parties will not start the campaign until late August, but their opposition rivals have already hit the ground running.
Pro Patria Union, which did well in local elections in1999, plans to spend 5.3 million kroons on the campaign, a 1.3 million kroon increase over the last time around.
However, the sum may change depending upon the actions of other parties, said Pro Patria treasurer Heiki Kivimaa.
The party has already started an advertising campaign by giving away leaflets spelling out its social welfare strategy, which includes a promise to raise allowances for children from 150 kroons to 1,000 kroons a month.
The Moderates said campaign expenditures would depend on the competition as well. The Modera-tes spent 2.1 million kroons in 1999 and plan to spend twice as much this year.
Both Pro Patria and the Moderates fell out of the national government last year but remain in government in several cities around the country.
The Center Party, the most popular in the country according to the latest polls, is skeptical about possible funding from its regional divisions.
"They often give empty promises, so our budget could be 5 million or 6 million or 7 million kroons compared with 4.7 million kroons in 1999," said party secretary-general Kullo Arjakas.
The People's Union, the largest party registered in Estonia, will focus on winning more votes in Tallinn and has already started with an outdoor ad campaign. According to spokeswoman Lea Kiivit, the party already has a good reputation in rural regions.
Free concerts and outdoor parties are the best tools of gaining popularity in the rural areas, but it does not work in Tallinn, where people are used to a variety of entertainment, according to Eero Tohver of the Reform Party, currently a major partner in the national government.
Kaur Hansen, media coordinator for the Res Publica party, said he expected total spending among all Estonia's major parties to amount to some 30 million kroons.