Exodus Continues: High Ranking Center Party MP, ETV Host Join IRL ({{commentsTotal}})

Two weeks after media speculation linked former Tallinn mayor and Center Party board member Jüri Ratas with a switch to the Reform Party, Aivar Riisalu, a parliamentarian since 2007, said he has left the party and joined IRL.

Riisalu handed in his notice on Sunday and took part in a IRL faction meeting today. According to the party, will run for office for IRL at the next elections in March.

“I decided to join IRL as I see better opportunities for myself to contribute to the development of Estonia,” he said, adding that IRL does not compromise on Estonian security matters. A second important topic, according to Riisalu, is tax reform, which according to him last took place in the '90s when Mart Laar, of IRL, was in charge.

Besides politics, Riisalu is on the board of a number of private companies, has participated on game shows and is a well known TV and radio show host. More than 2,100 people voted for him at the 2011 parliamentary elections.

ETV host joins IRL

One of ETV's most prominent TV hosts, Maire Aunaste, said she is quitting show business and going into politics, promising to join IRL.

She said her TV career, lasting close to three decades, will end in December this year. She said she was invited by Mart Laar to consider politics 20 years ago, but declined, but now is her last chance as she might be too old in another four years.

Aunaste, who was also an anchorwoman for Aktuaalne Kaamera for eight years, said she is joining IRL as for her freedom and independence are priority, and both were embodied by IRL in 1992, when a Laar-led IRL won the first ever elections, Aunuste said.

The Center Party now only has 20 MPs, beginning with 26 in 2011. IRL has 23, with one (Andres Herkel) leaving and Riisalu joining. The Reform Party has 35 MPs, having won over two Center Party members (Deniss Boroditš and Kalle Laanet) and the Social Democrats have 21, also welcoming two Center Party members (Inara Luigas and Rainer Vakra). Besides Herkel, Lembit Kaljuvee (also ex-Center) are partyless.

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