Estonian Political Parties in the mid-2010s
The article provides an analysis of political party system of the Republic of Estonia in the mid-2010s. The analysis is based on the works of Moris Duverger. As one might expect, the establishment of proportionate electoral system in Estonia has resulted in the formation of a multi-party system, in which no single party dominates in the parliament even in a short run. The article demonstrates that though Estonian political party system develops in line with the tendencies typical to political party systems of most European countries, some of its elements are more common to postcommunist countries. It indicates that the political party system in Estonia has stabilized throughout the past decade. Today, five sixths of voters support one of the four main political parties. A minority of voters does not consider any of the four dominant parties as a representative of their interests; thus, they vote for parties that had not been previously represented in the parliament. This allowed for two minor political parties to pass into the parliament at 2015 elections: the Estonian Conservative People’s Party, and Free Party. In the long run the minor parties will be able to keep parliamentary seats depending on their ability to build coalitions, either with the three governing parties — Reform Party, Pro Patria and Republic Union, and Social-Democratic Party, or with opposition Centre Party. The article considers the impact of the split in the Estonian society between ethnic Estonians and Russophonic people on political party system. It demonstrates that the majority of Russophonic voters in Estonia support the Centre Party, every major political party in the country has its Russophonic voters, while Estonian United Left Party, which promotes itself as a particular representative of the country’s Russophonic minority, remains a marginal political force.
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