Center Party guard change: Savisaar doesn’t matter anymore politically, says Reps (2)
“Politically, Edgar is nobody anymore. He has been suspended from his job for a year, but nothing has happened in Tallinn, rather we’ve seen fewer funny press conferences, and its image has improved,” Reps told Päevaleht in an interview published on Tuesday.
According to Reps, Savisaar still has a few fans, he had a “following like a saint”, and he should be allowed to keep that status.
Reps said that there was Edgar Savisaar the legend, who founded the Center Party, and who gathered quite a following. If people wanted to keep him close as a “saint of times past”, they should be allowed to go on their “pilgrimage to Hundisilma if they really need it” (Hundisilma is the name of Savisaar’s summer home; ed.).
The Center Party would continue to be a political force, Reps said. The Reform Party would be affected the most by the upcoming changes, she added, as no matter what kind of coalition would come next, it would change the political situation completely and include the Center Party in one form or another.
Reps’ statements indicate that a thorough change of generation is currently taking place in the party. The divide between Savisaar’s old guard and an increasingly impatient progressive wing has become clearer in recent years, culminating for the first time in Kadri Simson’s unsuccessful bid for Savisaar’s chairmanship last year.
Now, with Savisaar on trial for corruption, embezzlement, and money laundering, isolated politically, with the authorities keeping him from accessing his funds, and financially at the mercy of an increasingly hostile party leadership, for the first time since the party’s beginning there seems to be a real opportunity for change.
After it became public that Savisaar protégé Priit Toobal had signed a letter of guarantee over €450,000 without the knowledge of the rest of the party’s leadership, this latest scandal forced Savisaar to agree to an extraordinary party congress, to take place before the end of 2016, where he will most likely be replaced as chairman.
For close to a decade the other Estonian parties have refused to work with the Center Party unless they dispose of Savisaar and elect a new chairman. With the upcoming step, Center will finally come out of its political isolation, and seeing as they are the second-largest group in the Riigikogu very likely will have to be considered in any upcoming coalition talks.