Saturday, March 03, 2007

Estonians vote

Estonia is electing a new Riigikogu (Parliament) tomorrow, March 4. One of the more interesting sections in the country's riveting Electoral Law is the following:
Section 38 (2) 3). Advance polls shall be held from the sixth day to the fourth
day before election day by electronic means. Voting opens on the sixth day
before the day of election at 9.00 a.m. and lasts on 24-hour basis until the
voting closes on the fourth day before the election day at 8.00 p.m.

Yep--e-voting. Now, one can also go in and cast an in-person advance vote on these days (though not 24 hours). Overall, 19.1 percent of electors have already voted, compared to 14.5 percent last time around (I don't think they had the online option in 2003).

Meanwhile, section 62 of the same law explains the distribution of seats, which is rather complicated. Really, what it comes down to is: an open-list d'Hondt system, with one vote per elector. I think. As follows:

  • Mandates are given to any candidate meeting the simple quota in his/her constituency;
  • Then, mandates are given to political parties that meet the national 5 percent threshold according to the simple quota divided by that party's total votes, with an extra 75 percent of the simple quota counting as enough for a seat or another seat, and factoring in that some candidates may have already won seats, and the seats go to the most-voted candidates;
  • Then, mandates are distributed on a nationally compensatory basis between the same parties, according to d'Hondt (except that the multiplier is 2^0.9, 3^0.9 and so on). Candidates are given mandates on the order that they appear on the national list, if they got at least 5 percent of their simple quota (which shouldn't be horribly difficult). If not, the highest vote-getter gets that compensatory mandate.
And... I think that's it!

As for the actual parties...
Polls show the Center Party leading with the Estonian Reform Party in second. These are the two main parties in the current center-right (liberalish) government. Currently, Reform provides the prime minister, Andrus Ansip, despite being behind the Center Party in seats. The party which won the last election by a wide margin, Res Publica, is trailing despite a merger with another conservative party, Pro Patria. Finally, the Social Democrats, the new Green Party and possibly the conservative/agarian People's Union (the last party in the current coalition) should fill out the parliament.

Estonia is generally known for low taxes, an enterprising attitude, taking initiative online (as is clear with E-voting), and being irritating to Russia (as recently). None of this will likely change whenever the new government takes office.

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