REACTIONS: Lobjakas finds Kallas’ speech highlights absurdity of elections; Rõivas considers Kallas convincing candidate (2)

Siim Kallas, Siim Kallas (Reform) announced on Saturday that he is ready for a presidential nomination. (ERR)
4/18/2016 10:01 AM
Category: News

Reactions to Siim Kallas' Saturday announcement of his intention to run for president of Estonia were mixed. Political observer Ahto Lobjakas found that the purpose of Kallas' speech was to highlight the absurdity of how presidential elections are organized, with candidates only being officially confirmed just four days before elections; Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas considers Kallas a convincing candidate; Andres Anvelt found he was disappointed by the speech.

“Kallas’ keynote address, given four months before the elections, was essentially a one-handed round of applause, as not a single other serious candidate is currently in the same position,” Lobjakas said, speaking to ERR’s radio news. He found that Kallas demonstrated that debate is needed, but that the system is so closed off to the possibility that this has been rendered impossible.

“We know that Marina Kaljurand, who is the likely current Reform Party candidate, will debut as late as possible in order to avoid such an instance of public debate, which we actually need,” Lobjakas added, speaking to ETV’s nightly news broadcast “Aktuaalne kaamera.”

Reform Party Chairman Taavi Rõivas, who was among the audience at Kallas’ address, confirmed that the party would support both Siim Kallas and other candidates involved with the Reform Party. He found that it would be premature to preclude anyone from the race at this point, but found that Kallas was a “very convincing candidate,” who presented an overview of his priorities and whose speech included a lot of strong imagery. The Prime Minister noted that he particularly liked Kallas’ posed question, “Does Estonia want to be a closed bog island or an open city?”

Rõivas also mentioned on “Aktuaalne kaamera” that in addition to Kaljurand and Kallas, another name that has come up in surveys and discussions in the Center Party’s leadership and parliamentary group was that of MEP Urmas Paet.

Also among the audience at Kallas’ address on Saturday was Social Democrat (SDE) Andres Anvelt, who admitted that he was disappointed by the speech. “To be honest, I had hoped for more,” said Anvel, claiming that the speech was one of the elite. “Yes, the address was meant for politicians — but who elects the politicians? The people. And that was what was missing [from the speech].”

Sociologist Juhan Kivirähk pointed out that the Reform Party can only nominate one candidate in the Riigikogu, and so it was reasonable for Kallas to make his intentions known early on. “Currently the main question isn’t how much public opinion will begin to support Kallas, but rather whether other political parties in the Riigikogu are ready to support this possible Reform Party candidate,” Kivirähk explained.

Journalist Anvar Samost found that it would not be easy to find other candidates to run against Kallas. “It will be difficult for them to find a person who, in their political history, ideas and ambition would not stand [next to Kallas] and look two sizes too small," Samost said.

Former European Commission Vice-President and Reform Party Honorary Chairman Siim Kallas announced yesterday that he was prepared to run for president of Estonia and gave a keynote address detailing his views.

In his address, Kallas discussed the challenges facing Estonia and the country’s place in the world, and noted that he hoped that other presidential hopefuls would begin making themselves known so that he could debate them regarding various issues that he wasn’t able to address in yesterday’s speech, reported ERR’s radio news.

Editor: Aili Sarapik

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