Despite the failure of several no-confidence motions against Tallinn Mayor Edgar Savisaar, the opposition sees signs of cracks appearing in the unity of his Center Party.
There have been four attempts to vote Savisaar out of office, two of which have actually reached a vote and failed predictably, as the Center Party holds 46 seats in the 79-seat council.
The most recent vote was held on Tuesday, and was initiated by the Social Democrat faction on the Tallinn City Council in connection with Savisaar and other high-ranking officials being investigated for suspected misuse of public funds, Eesti Päevaleht reported.
The vote was attended only by 25 council members, with 23 voting in favour, and one against the motion and one abstaining. The Center Party was represented by head of the council Toomas Vitsut, who chaired the session and Savisaar himself did not attend.
On March 26, the no-confidence motion launched by the Reform Party, also failed, with 26 members voting for the motion.
Despite the result, IRL’s faction member Eerik-Niiles Kross said the number of absent council members indicates doubts in the obedience of Center Party members, who were instructed to stay away to ensure a desired result. “It has nothing to do with democracy, but it is a tactically smart move, because the Center Party is not as monolithic as it used to be in Tallinn. By the way, one member did show up by accident, but was told by an official that it was not necessary to attend the session,” Kross said on his Facebook page.
The three opposition parties, which hold 33 seats combined, have been hoping that some Center Party councilmen will support their motions, after Savisaar received rare criticism from his own party when the Ukrainian crisis took a violent turn. However, the party has since stressed its unity on the issue.
All three opposition parties have promised steady work up to the 2017 local elections to end Savisaar’s rule in the city, starting with co-ordinated action in the five administrative councils out of the total eight. Administrative councils make recommendations and hold little real power but can make it difficult to pass detailed plans.