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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Coalition Building in Estonia

TALLINN, Estonia -- Center-right Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, who backs more tax cuts but is reluctant to brake the economy to speed euro adoption, said Monday that all options were open for a new coalition after a slim election win.

Ansip, who has overseen growth of more than 11 percent, has been in power since April 2005 in a coalition with the left-leaning Center Party. But Ansip said the program of his Reform Party was closer to that of the nationalist Pro Patria-Res Publica bloc.

"At this stage, you do not find a party leader who rules out cooperation with another party and I do not either," he told Estonian television.

The election was overshadowed by increased tensions with Russia, which may have helped Pro Patria.

The tensions were sparked when the parliament voted to remove a statue of a Red Army soldier from the center of Tallinn because it was a reminder of 50 years of Soviet rule.

Russia called the plan, which Ansip backed, blasphemous to the memories of fighters against fascism.

Ansip said differences remained over economic policy with the Center Party, particularly on the question of raising salaries for public sector workers, which the party backs. "Coalitions are not born overnight or in a couple of days," Ansip added.

Reform Party spokeswoman Liina Vahtras said the party would set up a coalition negotiating team Wednesday.

The Sunday election gave the Reform Party 31 seats in the 101-seat parliament, a big jump from 19. Ansip benefited from strong economic growth figures and rising wealth to record the highest personal score for a candidate in any election at 22,000 votes.

The election, the first in the world to be held partially via the Internet, gave the Center Party 29 seats, while Pro Patria-Res Publica took 19, a better performance than expected.

Ansip and the Centre Party had ruled with a third, smaller coalition partner, the People's Union, which won six seats.

Reform and Pro Patria would also need a third party for a majority.