Kaja Kallas and the Reform Party have won the Estonian national elections with a landslide victory. The polls looked good for the party, but no one — not even Prime Minister Kallas — foresaw such a result. The Reform Party received the best result of any party in Estonia’s history, taking 37 seats out of 101. Kallas, the first-ever female Prime Minister of Estonia and Party Leader, showed citizens what she’s made of, by getting the most votes any Estonian politician has ever gotten in national elections.
The Reform Party wasn’t the only one to receive amazing results. The liberals altogether won the elections against the conservatives. The three liberal parties — Reform, Eesti 200 and Social Democrats all exceeded expectations while all the rest lost seats in the Parliament. In short — liberals kicked ass!
So, how did the liberals manage to achieve such a triumph? Here are 10 takeaways that parties could learn from the Estonian elections:
- Stick with one clear topic — “The main topic of these elections was clearly national security stemming from the war in Ukraine and the rising cost of living caused by it. We tied all our communication and topics to that main issue till the end to ensure focus,” noted campaign manager of the Reform Party Kristo Enn Vaga.
- You can’t be everyone’s darling — The clear conflict with the far-right EKRE party is what set liberals on the track to win. The Reform Party was the polar opposite of the conservatives throughout these entire elections.
- Get out to vote period is most important — all parties in Estonian understood that the voting period is the period where all the hard work needs to be done. During the voting week, parties spent 4 times more on advertisements than any other campaign week.
- Understand the political context, but also the people — Reform Party didn’t win the elections only because of a good campaign, but because Prime Minister Kallas understood the severity of the war in Ukraine, its effect on the cost of living and was empathetic with the people.
- Working with extremists doesn’t pay off — Estonian voters haven’t forgotten what it meant to have the far-right EKRE Party in government and the parties they were in coalition with are the clear losers of these elections.
- Diverse candidates make the best result — There were several candidates in many parties that did an unexpectedly good result — young women, experts outside of politics etc. We need more diversity in our candidates!
- Teamwork — making sure your candidates and campaigners are well equipped with talking points and having fun while out-and-about speaking with the voters is half the battle. With all the training done, it’s no wonder Reform Party candidates were so eloquent in debates.
- Don’t tell voters not to vote — EKRE telling their voters not to I-vote (Internet Voting) and then being very ‘surprised’ they didn’t get any I-votes is just shooting yourself in the foot.
- Think outside the box — not everything has to be by the book, the creative superhero campaign helped E200 stand out from the rest.
- Learn from others — If there is one thing the far-right is good at doing, it’s learning. Already, EKRE is contesting the voting results, especially I-voting as if reading from a Trump handbook. Liberals must work closer than ever now to defend freedom and keep our nations on the democratic track.