Estonia's government takes lead after advance vote

By Karl Ritter

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, March 6 2011 11:20 a.m. MST

CORRECTING LOCATION - Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves casts his ballot during the parliamentary elections at a polling station in Abja, Estonia, on Sunday, March 6, 2011. Estonia heads into its first election as a euro-zone member Sunday, with the center-right government hoping to be rewarded with an unprecedented second term for steering one of Europe's most depressed economies back to growth.

Timur Nisametdinov, NIPA, Associated Press

TALLINN, Estonia — Estonia's center-right government took an early lead in the Baltic country's first election as a euro-zone member, winning 58 percent of the advance ballots.

Estonia's election commission said Prime Minister Andrus Ansip's Reform Party got 34 percent and its conservative partner IRL had 24 percent. About one-quarter of Estonia's 913,000 eligible voters cast advance ballots.

The Social Democrats, which dropped out of Ansip's coalition in 2009, won 18 percent of the advance votes and the main opposition Center Party got 14 percent. A full preliminary vote count was expected later Sunday.

Ansip's government has already made history as the first to serve a full term since the country introduced Western-style democracy following the Soviet collapse in 1991.

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