Estonians head to polls with populist party seen rising

Estonians head to polls with populist party seen rising
In this photo taken on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019, Chairman of the Estonian Conservative People's Party (EKRE) Martin Helme speaks at his party's campaign meeting in Parnu, Estonia. Nearly a million people are eligible to vote Sunday, March 3, 2019 to choose Estonia’s 101-seat Riigikogu legislature, where the outgoing prime minister and his Center Party is pitted against the center-right opposition Reform Party. (AP Photo/Raul Mee)

TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — Estonians have started voting in a parliamentary election in the small Baltic nation in a ballot where Prime Minister Juri Ratas and his Center Party are pitted against the center-right opposition Reform Party and where populists are seen making inroads.

Sunday’s vote in the NATO and the European Union member of 1.3 million comes as the far-right, nationalist Estonian Conservative People’s Party, EKRE, has substantially increased its popularity since the 2015 election.

Both main contenders wish to keep it at bay.

Nearly a million voters are eligible to elect representatives for the next four years to the 101-seat Riigikogu legislature.

About 26 percent have previously cast their votes online. Electronic voting pioneer Estonia was the first country in the world to use online balloting for a national election in 2005.