Ratas to Continue in Center Party ({{commentsTotal}})

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Center Party board member and MP Jüri Ratas said he will run for Parliament as a Center Party member, for now ending speculation about the possibility of him switching parties.

In a statement on Thursday, Ratas said the Center Party leadership has offered him the top position on the party's election list for Harju and Rapla counties, the constituency with the most seats at the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Ratas said he will do his best to promote the party to a place in government. He told ETV that the decision wasn't an easy one.

"I stayed because I believe in the Center Party's principles and the people who support the Center Party. I also believe the Center Party can form the government after the next parliamentary elections," he said.

At the end of August Postimees speculated that Ratas was on the verge of joining the Reform Party, with a ministerial position promised to sweeten the deal.

Ratas has been one of the most outspoken Center Party members, pushing for Kadri Simson to replace Edgar Savisaar as the party's top candidate at the next elections. Ratas, Simson and a few other party heavyweights have said the party is leaning towards one extreme and relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party are too close.

Since the last parliamentary elections, the Center Party has lost a number of MPs and both of its MEPs to party switches.