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Ruling coalition ahead in election

Early results showed Estonia's centre-right ruling coalition leading in the country's parliamentary election, which has been dominated by economic issues and security concerns due to Russia's actions in Ukraine.

Polls had indicated a close race between Prime Minister Taavi Roivas' Reform Party-led coalition and Edgar Savisaar's Centre Party, the main opposition party, which is favoured by the country's ethnic Russians.

After polls had closed tonight, results showed the Reform Party leading with 29% of the votes followed by the left-leaning Centre Party with 21% of votes.

Reform's government partner, the Social Democrats, was given 16% when 478 voting districts of a total of 547 were counted. Some 176,000 had voted electronically, setting a record in the country, which pioneered online voting in 2005.

The centre-right ruling coalition consists of the Reform Party and the Social Democrats and holds 52 of the 101 seats in parliament.

Even though Estonia is a Nato member, many are worried that Moscow might try to boost its influence in the country, a former Soviet republic where one-fourth of the 1.3 million residents are ethnic Russians.

All main political parties strongly support defence spending and a continuation of the Nato presence in Estonia, which together with neighbours Latvia and Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union for nearly five decades.

Defence Minister Sven Mikser said that Estonia should improve its defence capabilities "to maintain solidarity with Western nations".

The Centre Party has a more lenient attitude to Moscow and has refrained from criticising Russia's annexation of Crimea and its actions in Ukraine.

Economic issues have focused on tax reforms. Estonia has continued to show strong growth even as many of its European partners are struggling.

Election officials said preliminary voter turnout was 63.7, marginally up from 63.5 in 2011.


From Belfast Telegraph