Since Estonia regained independence, Tallinn has been the private domain of Edgar Savisaar and his Centre Party for most of the past 22 years. Many say that the vote of the local Russian population has ensured the Centre Party’s majority in city council nearly consistently. As opposed to Canada’s election law, Estonia allows non-citizens to vote in municipal elections.
Although opinion polls predict that the Centre Party will rack up more wins in the nationwide municipal elections slated for six months hence, pundits are not certain that the Centre Party will hold on to power in the capital itself. A recent survey indicated that the Centre Party would gain approximately 35% of the Tallinn vote. That’s a very strong result, but it cannot assure that the party wins 51% of the seats on the city council. The intense interest focussed on Tallinn’s election derives not necessarily from curiosity about the fate of Estonia’s longest surviving prominent political figure, Savisaar. Tallinn’s vote has always been considered to be a bellwether for the following parliamentary elections (next one – March 2015).
Some mitigating factors will play a determining role in the election outcome. The media has been focussing on rumours of bribery and money laundering, both involving Savisaar. Estonia’s security police launched an investigation on February 3rd regarding the money laundering accusations. The local police then requested information from Swiss justice authorities about Savisaar’s banking actitivites. It became apparent that Savisaar had a fund, Arsai Investment in Switzerland. He has yet to be formally charged. (Pikemalt saab lugeda Eesti Elu 10. mai paberlehest )
Is Tallinn’s government to remain the bastion of the Centre Party?