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Estonia: Local Government Elections Slated For Next Sunday

By Andres Mae

Tallinn, 18 October 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Estonia next Sunday holds its local government elections, the second since the country regained its independence in 1991.

Only citizens may be candidates. But election law allows non-citizen legal residents to vote in the local government elections if they are 18 years of age and have five years of local residency. This is part of Estonia's policy of integrating non-citizen residents into the nation's society and democratic institutions.

But non-citizen residents had to register before hand to be able to vote in the local elections -- and, only about 71,000 have registered.

There are more than 400,000 ethnic Russians in Estonia and about half are concentrated in the capital, Tallinn.

In the first post-Soviet local government elections in October 1993, voter turnout exceeded 52 percent, and non-citizen turnout was greater than that of citizens.

Nineteen parties are participating in local elections in 254 local government units. Five parties have listed candidates in ten or more municipalities. The most active of these is the Reform Party, with candidates listed in 22 locations.