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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Center-Right Forces Coalescing in Estonia

TALLINN, Estonia -- Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, whose Reform Party won Sunday's parliamentary election, was expected to lead three-party talks Tuesday on the creation of a new center-right government, media reports said.

The Reform Party was scheduled to meet with the right-wing IRL union, which finished third in Sunday's election, and the centrist Social Democrats, which finished fourth, the Postimees newspaper reported Tuesday.

Together, the three parties would command 60 seats in the 101-seat Riigikogu, or parliament.

A center-right coalition is likely to lead to further tax cuts and perhaps a harder attitude to ties with Russia.

Both the center-right parties backed the removal of a Soviet-era World War II monument from central Tallinn, a plan which Moscow has called blasphemous.

The center-right Reform Party narrowly won the ballot, gaining 27.8 percent of the vote on pledges to continue the Baltic country's liberal economic policies.

The left-leaning Center Party, a current coalition member, finished second with 26.1 percent. Though the Centrists cooperated with the Reform Party in the outgoing government, the two groups have differing views on the country's future.

"We can have discussions with the Social Democrats, but with the Centrists -- hardly," said Reform Party lawmaker Igor Grazin.

Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves is expected to authorize Ansip to lead government talks later this week after election results are officially confirmed by the National Electoral Committee. Ilves, who gave up his membership in the Social Democratic party after becoming president last year, said he was hoping for the creation of a wide coalition.

(AP, Reuters)