The three parties in power said an Edgar Savisaar-led Center Party will stay in opposition as Savisaar insulted the progress made by Estonia, other parties and the legal system, and praised Russian politicians, in a speech at the party's congress on Sunday, where he was reelected to lead the party.
Reform Party Chairman and PM Taavi Rõivas said it was sad but predictable to hear Savisaar preach Kremlin propaganda at Sunday's congress.
“The day showed me not just that the Center Party has a very strong internal gulf, but also that different parties' stances on security, the annexation of Crimea, and the question of whether Russia has the right to invade its neighbors, reveals a vast difference of values. We see things very differently from the Center Party and it is the Center Party members' decision to continue with Edgar Savisaar,” Rõivas said.
“The election of Edgar Savisaar and his message, which was approved by the congress, directly means that everything the Estonian people have achieved in 23 years was thrown in the dumpster by the Center Party, and this message was very powerful and clear. I do not see the Center Party having similarities with any Estonian party, which is pro-Estonia. If Edgar Savisaar's propaganda were to be brought to life, Estonia would turn into a small satellite state for [Russian President Vladimir] Putin,” IRL Chairman Margus Tsahkna said.
SDE Chairman Jevgeni Ossinovski said the Center Party is suitable for the opposition. “If Kadri Simson thinks the Center Party needs to be part of the government to fill its policies, then the current situation suffices for Edgar Savisaar,” he said, adding that Sunday's vote showed that nearly half of the party members await changes on how the party represents its voters on a national level.
Free Party deputy head Andres Ammas said the biggest winner from Sunday, when Savisaar edged out Simson by 541 votes to 486 to continue as the party's head, is the Reform Party.
“All internal battles within the Center Party have ended with people leaving," Ammas said, adding that it's usually people who are optimistic, smarter and more prone to cooperation. EKRE Chairman Mart Helme also said many people, who did not like Sunday's result, could leave.
IRL, EKRE and Free Party heads said a Simson-led Center Party would not have led to cooperation as an ideological shift from the party would be needed first.
Editor: J.M. Laats