Ukraine ally Kallas fights for reelection in Estonia vote

Ukraine ally Kallas fights for reelection in Estonia vote

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TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — Polling stations have opened in Estonia for a general election that the center-right Reform Party of Prime Minister Kaja Kallas. one of Europe’s most outspoken supporters of Ukraine, is a favorite to win.

She faces a challenge from the populist opposition EKRE party that is seeking to limit the Baltic nation’s exposure to the Ukraine crisis and is blaming the government for citizens’ economic misery.

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Over 900,000 people are eligible to cast ballots Sunday to pick representatives to Estonia’s 101-seat Parliament, or Riigikogu, from a range of nine political parties. National security in the wake of neighboring Russia’s assault of Ukraine and social-economic issues, particularly the rising cost of living, have been the main themes of the election.

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Kallas, 45, has emerged in the past year of war as one of Europe’s most outspoken supporters of Ukraine. Holding the country’s top post since 2021, she’s seeking a second term, with her standing enhanced by her international appeals to impose sanctions on Moscow.

A Baltic nation of 1.3 million people that borders Russia to the east, Estonia broke away from the Soviet Union in 1991 and has taken a clear Western course, joining NATO and the European Union.

Polls indicate Kallas’ center-right liberal Reform Party is likely to win more votes than any other party. Her main challenger is Martin Helme, head of the nationalist far-right EKRE party, which faults Kallas for the country’s inflation rate of 18.6% — one of the EU’s highest — and accuses her of undermining Estonia’s defenses by giving weapons to Ukraine.

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