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Last Updated: Monday, 5 March 2007, 07:45 GMT
Prime minister wins Estonian poll
Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip
Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip voted online
Estonia's prime minister looks set to retain power after his party emerged as the winner of Sunday's election, preliminary official results showed.

With more than 99% of ballots counted, Andrus Ansip's centre-right Reform Party had captured 27.8% of the votes.

He said he would start coalition talks immediately. He has not committed to maintaining the current formula.

Estonia's fifth parliamentary polls since independence in 1991 were the world's first to include online voting.

"The strong support to two big governing parties shows that people are happy with the policies of this government," Mr Ansip declared.

However, he then went on to attack his coalition partner, the left-leaning Centre Party, which came narrowly second with 26.1%, over its proposals to replace Estonia's flat tax with a progressive system.

"People are... scared of the Centre Party's lavish promises," he said.

Keeping options open

He hinted he might seek a link-up with the nationalist IRL union, the country's main opposition party, which came in third place with 17.8%.

Mr Ansip vowed to retain and lower Estonia's renowned flat tax and continue the country's market-friendly policies which helped the country post a growth rate of 11.5% last year.

The two leading parties have managed to maintain a political partnership despite policy differences.

If the results are confirmed, they would together have 60 seats in the 101-member parliament. Final results are expected within a couple of days.

However, both Mr Ansip and the Centre Party's Edgar Savisaar said they were keeping their options open about potential partnerships.

Voting breakthrough

Turnout rose to 61% of those eligible to vote, up from 58% in 2003, officials said.

They included about 30,000 people who voted online, in a world first.

The country broke new ground with its online election system which took advantage of the fact that nearly 90% of Estonians carry a computer-readable identity card - which they were able to use to log in to the secure online voting website.

But in contrast to its advanced technology, correspondents say that Estonia, which joined the European Union in 2004, is still grappling with some of the EU's worst health statistics, including high rates of alcoholism, HIV infection, and traffic-related deaths.




SEE ALSO
Country profile: Estonia
03 Jan 07 |  Country profiles
Estonia opens politics to the web
07 May 04 |  Technology
Estonia embraces web without wires
05 May 04 |  Technology

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