Estonian premier aims for coalition talks to create new govt

TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — Estonia’s prime minister was preparing to form a new government Monday, a day after his ruling Reform Party won parliamentary elections.

Taavi Roivas’ center-right group, which includes the Social Democrats, lost seven seats in the vote and now has 45 lawmakers in the 101-seat Parliament, prompting negotiations with smaller parties to form a majority coalition.

Roivas met the country’s head of state before discussions with other party leaders.

At their meeting, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves suggested forming a broad coalition, saying the small nation of 1.3 million people “needs a responsible and capable government … (to) maintain Estonia’s security, governance and local government reforms.”

The election was dominated by economic issues and security concerns over Russia’s actions in Ukraine, with many fearing that Moscow would try to increase its influence in the former Soviet republic, which has a large ethnic Russian minority.

The main opposition Center Party gained one seat for a total of 27 lawmakers, with its leader, Tallinn Mayor Edgar Savisaar, winning 25,000 votes — an all-time record in Estonian elections since it regained independence in 1991.

Roivas has ruled out working with Savisaar, who is deemed by many as being too pro-Moscow in the Baltic country, which was occupied by the Soviet Union for nearly five decades.

Two smaller parties, a nationalist and conservative party, made gains in the election, breaking a 5-percent threshold to win seats in parliament for the first time, with analysts predicting that at least one of them is likely to be represented in a new coalition.

The liberal, pro-market Reform Party has held the prime minister’s post since 2005.

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