Estonian Center Party

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Eesti Keskerakond
Estonian Center Party
Estonian Center Party logo
Party chairman Jüri Ratas
Party leader Jüri Ratas
founding October 12, 1991
Headquarters Toom-Rüütli 3/5
10130 Tallinn
Alignment Political center ,
social populism , social liberalism
Colours) green
Parliament seats
( Riigikogu )
Number of members 14,707 (2018)
( 2019 )
European party Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE)
EP Group Renew Europe (RE)

The Estonian Center Party (Estonian: Eesti Keskerakond ) is an Estonian center-left - party with social-populist elements. It is one of the most important parties in Estonia. Since November 2016 she has provided the Prime Minister of Estonia with Jüri Ratas .


The Estonian Center Party was founded shortly after Estonian independence was regained on October 12, 1991 in Tallinn . In 1992 the party newspaper Seitse Päeva ("Seven Days") was launched.

Domestic politics

The Estonian Center Party is one of the most stable and influential parties in Estonia. She was involved in three of the 15 coalitions that have ruled since 1992, including between 2005 and 2007 together with the Reform Party and the Estonian People's Union under Prime Minister Andrus Ansip . The Center Party is represented in important city and local governments. a. She currently (2015) holds the absolute majority of the seats in the Tallinn City Council. With over 9,000 members (as of 2006) it is the second largest party in Estonia in terms of membership. In the Riigikogu , the Estonian parliament, it has been the second strongest force behind the Estonian Reform Party for several years . In the 2015 election , the Center Party was able to improve its position slightly with 24.8% (+ 1.5%) or 27 out of 101 seats (+ 1 seat).


The Estonian Center Party has been a member of the ALDE in the European Parliament since May 2004 , after earlier applications had been rejected twice. Before the referendum on Estonia's accession to the EU , the Rakvere party congress (August 2003) called by a relative majority of the voters of the Center Party to vote against the country's EU membership. The party chairman Savisaar deliberately did not make clear statements. As a consequence of this positioning, the representatives of the liberal wing left the Center Party and formed the “Social Liberal Group” in parliament ( Riigikogu ). Most of the Social Liberals later joined the Social Democratic Party .

In the 2004 European elections , the Center Party received one of six Estonian seats. Siiri Oviir entered the European Parliament as the party's MEP .


The Estonian Center Party is regarded as a center-left party in the economically liberal society of Estonia. She advocates the introduction of a progressive income tax and emphasizes the balancing role of the state in the social market economy . The party has become a reservoir for pensioners and low-income earners and is also attractive to the Russian-speaking minority. The party is also known for populist actions. Nevertheless, the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church (EELK) gave its members a recommendation for the 2019 parliamentary election that the Estonian Center Party most closely reflects the positions of the EELK.

The political scientist Kai-Olaf Lang names KESK as an example of a social-populist party. These strived for an expansion of state interventions, a slowdown in the conversion of property and a more redistributive policy, without, however, fundamentally calling into question the prevailing economic and social order. He therefore counts them among the group of “soft populists”. David Arter, on the other hand, compares them with the Nordic agrarian parties , in particular with the Swedish Centerpartiet , which served as a direct model for the Estonian Center Party.

Election results

Results in the parliamentary elections
year be right proportion of Mandates space
1992 56,124 12.2%
1995 76,634 14.2%
1999 113,378 23.4%
2003 125,709 25.4%
2007 143,518 26.1%
2011 134.124 23.3%
2015 142,442 24.8%
2019 118,561 23.0%
Results in the European elections
year be right proportion of Mandates space
2004 40,704 17.5%
2009 103.506 26.1%
2014 73,419 22.4%
2019 47,799 14.4%


Jüri Ratas (* 1978) was elected chairman of the party in November 2016 . He replaced the former Prime Minister (1990–1992) and Tallinn's Lord Mayor Edgar Savisaar (* 1950), who was party chairman from 1991 to 2016 when the party was founded.

The former party chairman Savisaar, the party's long-time draft horse, was accused by his opponents of an authoritarian leadership style.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Elisabeth Bakke: Central and East European party systems since 1989. In: Sabrina P. Ramet: Central and East European party systems since 1989. Central and Southeast European Politics since 1989. Cambridge University Press, 2010, p. 79.
  2. a b Kai-Olaf Lang: Populism in East Central Europe. Forms of manifestation, peculiarities and opportunity structures. In: Rudolf von Thadden, Anna Hofmann: Populism in Europe - Crisis of Democracy? Wallstein, Göttingen 2005, pp. 137–154, on p. 145.
  3. taz online from March 2, 2019: Good forecasts for right-wing extremists
  4. David Arter: From Farmyard to City Square? The Electoral Adaptation of the Nordic Agrarian Parties. Ashgate, 2001, p. 181.

Web links