Party representatives debate held for Estonian March parliamentary election

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TALLINN, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- A live Estonian TV broadcast of pre-election debate of five female major party representatives on Thursday highlighted the ongoing campaign ahead of the March parliamentary election.

The all-women panelists included Yana Toom, an Estonian politician and Member of the European Parliament from the incumbent ruling Center Party in coalition with the Social Democrats (SDE) and Pro Patria, Riina Sikkut, Estonian Minister of Health and Labour from the SDE, Keit Pentus-Rosimannus, Member of the Estonian parliament Riigikogu from the Reform party, Eva-Liisa Luhamets from Pro Patria and Liina Normet from the party Estonia 200.

Focusing on topics such as women in politics, education, tax system and healthcare, as well as urban planning among others, the debate in English preceded another on Friday of nine major party representatives to explain the party members' views on various important topics before the general election on Mar. 3.

A total of 1,099 candidates from 10 political parties and 15 independent candidates have been registered for the elections, according to the Estonian National Electoral Committee.

The latest January voter poll commissioned by Estonian Public Broadcasting Corporation showed that the Estonian Center Party, led by the Estonian Prime Minister Yuri Ratas, had 33 percent voter support, to be followed by Reform, at 25 percent, and the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE), at 17 percent. The SDE had 7 percent and Pro Patria, 6 percent, while newcomer Estonia 200 crashed back to the election threshold at 5 percent.

Out of the Estonian population of 1.32 million, a total of 958,571 people including 77,881 Estonian citizens living abroad can vote in the upcoming general election, the Estonian Ministry of the Interior confirmed on Monday.

The current 13th Estonian parliament Riigikogu was elected on Mar. 1, 2015, with Estonian Reform Party winning 27.7 percent votes, followed by Estonian Center Party's 24.8 percent, and a turnout of 64.2 percent.

In November 2016, Ratas took over from the then Prime Minister Taavi Roivas from the Estonian Reform Party after the latter lost a confidence vote in parliament, forming a new coalition government. Enditem

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