Center Party Chairman Edgar Savisaar said he will run at the upcoming party internal elections, in a bid to remain at the head of the party.
Savisaar suffered serious health issues shortly after the general election earlier in the year, and was in hospital for three months, where he had a leg amputated.
“A number of well-known Center Party members have turned to me and asked me to run. I believe it is too early to step down. There is still much to be done and I will leave nothing unfinished. I will take on anyone at the party congress and in the end, it will all depend on who the people at the congress will give their backing for, who they trust and wish to see as leader,” Savisaar told Kesknädal, the party's newspaper.
Political scientist Tõnis Saarts said that the party's members have pondered the question of what comes after Savisaar, asking if any new leader can keep the party together. “The answer here might be a 'no', so there is a substantial fear that the new head might not cope and the party goes through great changes – or loses its strong position on the Estonian political landscape,” he said.
University of Tartu political scientist Vello Pettai said that Savisaar has accepted his party's position in the opposition, as the way he criticized other parties such as IRL and the Reform Party in a recent interview, shows. Savisaar said he will not talk to IRL as the party allegedly took Russian money, and speaking about Reform Party head Taavi Rõivas, Savisaar said Rõivas is not really in control of his own party.
Saarts said Savisaar's decision to continue in politics is welcome news for the Reform Party, which can scare voters with Savisaar.
Currently there are no other candidates to run against Savisaar at the party congress, which will take place on November 29.
Savisaar has been the party's head since its formation in 1991, minus about six months in the mid-90s.
Editor: J.M. Laats