Parliamentary Chamber: Riigikogu


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Dates of elections / renewal (from/to):

  2 March 2003

Purpose of elections:

  Elections were held for all the seats in Parliament on the normal expiry of the members' term of office

Background and outcome of elections:

  Eleven political parties registered some 947 candidates for the 2 March 2003 parliamentary elections, with another 16 individuals running independently, when the Baltic State went to the polls to vote in a new government to lead it to European Union and NATO membership.

The electoral campaign focused on personalities, especially that of former Interior Minister Edgar Savisaar, leader of the Centre Party and Mayor of Tallinn. Mr. Savisaar had been forced to step down from his ministerial post in 1995 amid allegations he had secretly taped his political rivals. The main subject was clearly EU and NATO membership for the country. All parties agreed on the need for reform and on this common foreign policy goal, an objective to be attained in 2004, 12 short years after independence from the Soviet Union.

Other campaign issues were crime, corruption, unemployment and discrimination between ethnic Russians and Estonians.

About 58 per cent of the some 900,000 eligible voters cast ballots.

The results showed a deadlock, with two parties winning the same number of seats in Parliament. The left-leaning Centre Party won the most votes, i.e. 25.4 per cent. With this percentage, the party obtained 28 of the 101 seats in Parliament, exactly the same total as the newly formed conservative group Res Publica, which finished second with 24.6 per cent of the vote. The conservative Reform Party won 17.7 per cent of the vote, i.e. 19 seats. The centre-right Pro Patria won 7.3 per cent, for seven seats. The centrist Moderates obtained 7 per cent and six seats. The centre-left group, the People's Union, polled 13 per cent, winning 13 seats.

The centre-right parties won a combined 60 seats, while the centre-left parties took 41 seats. Fifty-seven of the 101 deputies elected to parliament on 2 March were being elected to their first term, including 27 of the 28 Res Publica members. The number of female deputies increased from 18 to 19.

During the first session of the new Riigikogu on 31 March 2003, Ms. Ene Ergma of the Res Publica was elected as Speaker by 66 votes to three, with 30 invalid ballots.

On 2 April 2003, President Arnold Rüütel asked Mr. Juhan Parts, leader of Res Publica, to form a government. The new coalition government, formed of Res Publica, the Reform Party, and People's Union, took office on 10 April 2003.

Round no 1 (2 March 2003): Elections results  
Number of registered electors 859 714
Voters 500 686 (58 %)
Blank or invalid ballot papers 5 798
Valid votes 494 888

Round no 1: Distribution of votes  
Political Group Votes %
Center Party 125 718 25.40
Res Publica 121 818 24.60
Reform Party 87 650 17.70
People's Union (R) 64 470 13.00
Pro Patria Union 36 138 7.30
Moderates' Party 34 819 7.00

Round no 1: Distribution of seats  
Political Group Total
Center Party 28
Res Publica 28
Reform Party 19
People's Union (R) 13
Pro Patria Union 7
Moderates' Party 6

Distribution of seats according to sex:  
Men: 82
Women: 19
Percent of women: 18.81

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