Voting Considerations at the 2011 Riigikogu Elections
The functioning and quality of representative democracies can be assessed on the basis of how the political parties compete between themselves for the voters of the electors and how the voters make their voting decisions.
The elections research conducted by the Institute of Government and Politics of the University of Tartu after the Riigikogu elections of 2011 enables to a certain extent to assess the mutual relationship between the Estonian political parties and their voters. Among other things, it was asked what, according to the voters themselves, had been the decisive issue in making a choice – the political party or a concrete candidate. It turned out that in the case of three political parties of the four parties that gained seats in the Riigikogu, the dominant factor was not voting for a political party generally but preferring a concrete candidate. In the opinion of the author, the trend to make a voting decision more by candidates than by political parties shows that the political connection between our political parties and their voters is not especially strong. At the same time, in certain issues, like citizenship, the Defence Forces and introducing Estonian-language instruction in Russian upper secondary schools, the voters have sharply divided into two camps – on one side there are the Centre Party supporters and on the other side the voters of all other parties. Thus the behaviour of Estonian voters is also influenced by a certain more general gap on our political party landscape and among our voters. But there is still much room for development in the policy-based competition that is the basis for representative democracy.