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Russia worry sets tone for Estonia poll

Friday, February 27, 2015 - 02:21

Estonia readies itself for elections dominated by security worries over its giant neighbour, Russia. David Pollard reports.

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Estonia's defence league holds a fun day at a local school in Tallinn. The tiny Baltic state is one of the few NATO members to keep defence spending at a NATO target of two per cent of GDP. Its 1.3 million people have Russia as their giant and powerful neighbour. Security is anything but child's play. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MEMBER OF ESTONIAN DEFENCE LEAGUE, KRISTIAN PUTSEP, SAYING: "We don't know what happens in Ukraine. But the main thing is you have to be prepared always." Security pips the economy as the number one issue as voters go the polls this weekend. And is creating its own complications for what happens next. The main opposition Centre Party is expected to garner most votes, according to a recent poll. It attracts support from Estonia's Russian speaking minority - they account for around a quarter of the population. But looks likely to be rejected as a partner in a possible coalition. Even one of its own politicians preferring to distance himself from Russia's actions in Ukraine. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MEMBER OF CENTRE PARTY, ENN EESMAA, SAYING: "We have tried to have more dialogue with Russia. But after things have happened in Ukraine it has been quite difficult if not to say impossible." It's an unenviable position not just for the Centre Party, but for the country. IG's Alastair McCaig. (SOUNDBITE) (English) IG INDEX MARKET ANALYST, ALASTAIR MCCAIG SAYING: ''I think the sanctions that Russia have had imposed against them and have also imposed on the West are going to bite even more aggressively in the months ahead and I think if nothing else this will probably be the more instantaneous deterrent to any other actions that Vladimir Putin or any of his cohorts might have towards the Baltic nations, but you would imagine that there will be considerable nerves in those regions.'' The most likely outcome is seen as a coalition partnership between the Reform Party and the Social Democrats. With the job of forming that coalition falling to prime minster Taavi Roivas. At 35, he's Europe's youngest premier - and strongly pro-NATO. Second on the mind of voters is the economy. The main divisions there are over minimum wages and tax breaks. But with the lowest public sector debt in the EU and rising employment, there's much less insecurity on that front.

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Russia worry sets tone for Estonia poll

Friday, February 27, 2015 - 02:21