Jevgeni Krištafovitš, one of the leaders of the internal opposition in Estonia's Free Party, has announced his candidacy for the position of party chairman ahead of the party convention to be held in April.
"My standing as candidate has to do with the distribution of so-called roof money and the confusion related to elections," Krištafovitš told BNS on Friday. "I'm against the handout of roof money, and I also find that the Free Party should head to the local elections as a party, not within the composition of electoral alliances.
"The party's present leadership has refused to condemn the handout of roof money and continues this practice despite the resentment of rank and file members of the party and the public," Krištafovitš explained, referring to the practice whereby a small portion of money in the state budget is left by the Riigikogu to be distributed by individual MPs for the urgent needs of their constituencies and NGOs.
Krištafovitš also said that he is against the idea championed by Free Party MP Artur Talvik that the party should field its candidates in this fall's municipal elections as part of electoral alliances.
"A practice like this is forbidden by law," he said. "Whether some member of the party runs in local elections as an independent candidate or as part of an electoral alliance, it is up to them to decide, but the party cannot hide behind electoral alliances and mislead voters. This is illegal and in my opinion also profoundly unethical."
Krištafovitš noted that a record number of members are quitting the Free Party now.
"Last week, six founding members left, which is one percent of the total number of members," he highlighted. "All the former secretaries general and heads of the Tallinn chapter left. The reason was immense pressure to head to the elections in Tallinn as part of an electoral alliance — that is, for the Free Party not to take part in the elections. I'm coming to save the Free Party from this."
'I hope they stage a revolution'
Krištafovitš said that unless he is expelled from the party prior to the April 23 convention, he may indeed win the election.
"There are more and more people in the party who believe that we have to take part in local elections and must not yield to pressure from the present leadership and quit the party," he said. "I hope that they will not quit and will come to the convention and stage a revolution of a sort."
No other member of the Free Party has yet announced their candidacy for its chairmanship. Artur Talvik, however, a Free Party MP who is not a member of the party, has referred to the possibility that he might join the party and run for the position.
With eight seats in the 101-seat chamber, the Free Party is the second smallest political force currently in the Riigikogu.
Editor: Aili Vahtla