New IRL Chairman Margus Tsahkna said top priority is to get the party in order and free itself from internal manipulators.
Tsahkna said the new court of honor has promised to find out who was behind the recent internal scandal, which saw dozens of people, mostly in Pärnu County, join the party ahead of the internal leadership elections, only for 21 to be ejected on the grounds they had received criminal convictions, including at least one who was found guilty and served time for murder.
IRL was hit by a similar scandal three years ago, when also dozens of people with shady pasts joined the party just days before internal elections.
Kaia Iva, freshly elected as one of three deputy chairmen, said the party will not climb in the ratings before it has found the people and reasons for the membership surge in Pärnu County, where a total of 60 people joined ahead of the elections.
The party's rating is around 8-10 percent, the lowest level since the party was formed by the merger of Pro Patria and the Res Public Union.
Tsahkna said a simple name change back to Pro Patria, which was proposed at the recent party congress, will not help as long as there are internal problems. “We must earn the name,” he said.
Coalition partners welcomed the leadership change, with Rannar Vassiljev, a Social Democrat minister, saying IRL made an excellent choice. Hanno Pevkur, of the Reform Party, also said his party is happy with the change, adding they are more confused about the Social Democrats, who recently elected Jevgeni Ossinovski as its head. Ossinovski has criticized the coalition treaty, although less so after elected to head the party.
Center Party board member Jaanus Karilaid said if Tsahkna is able to assert himself then IRL could survive and thrive.
Andres Herkel, Free Party MP who quit IRL a few years ago citing a low political culture, said there should not be problems with cooperating with Tsahkna, but the new board could be a different matter, as this has remained largely the same.
Editor: J.M. Laats