Estonian politicians target voters in Finland ahead of Sunday’s elections

A record number of Estonians cast their ballots early - either in person, or electronically - including Estonians who live and work in Finland.

File picture showing exterior of Estonian parliament Riigikogu in Tallinn / Credit: iStock

Estonia goes to the polls on Sunday in parliamentary elections, and some of the major political parties have been doing outreach to voters in Finland.

An estimated 30,000 Estonians live and work in Finland, with 12,000 of them in the capital city area.

So potential voters in Finland are naturally a target for Estonian political parties.

At the last general election four years ago, some parties invested in posters around Helsinki. However this time round the targeted advertising has moved on to Facebook.

“This time we did not have an outdoor campaign in Finland. However we did target Estonians living in Finland via social media [and] we also attended a debate in Helsinki” explains Andre Hanimägi from Keskerakond, or Centre Party. Their party leader is Jüri Ratas, the current Estonian Prime Minister.

“We hope that Estonians living in Finland are aware of our party’s election platform and main purposes. Hopefully people living or working currently abroad are giving a vote for the current and very popular Prime Minister Jüri Ratas and his team” Hanimägi tells News Now Finland.

One of the other big Estonian parties, Reform Party, has also been using Facebook to target adverts at Estonians who live in Finland.

The Reform Party’s former Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas visited Helsinki during the campaign, as well as current party leader Kaja Kallas, who met with Estonian cultural organisations.

“”e have been campaigning on Facebook, and one of the things we want to do is allow dual citizenship for people who are Estonians by birth, so that’s an issue we feel for the Estonians in Finland it is something they are interested in” explains Kajar Kase, a press spokesman at the Reform Party.

Estonian Voting

Estonians who work in Finland but commute home to Estonia on the weekend have the chance to vote in person at a polling station.

However, many Estonians vote electronically or cast an early ballot. Almost 350,000 voters, or 40% of the electorate had voted early as polls closed on Wednesday evening. Just over 186,000 e-votes were cast in advance.

Those numbers represent an increase on the 2015 early voting figures, according to Estonian officials.

Advance votes could be cast in any of the country’s 451 polling stations, but on polling day itself Sunday, voters can only vote in the home district where they are registered.