Papers: Next president won’t be elected by parliament

Candidates Eiki Nestor, Siim Kallas, Mailis Reps, and Allar Jõks in Sunday's presidential debate on ETV. (ERR)
8/29/2016 9:55 AM
Category: News

The major Estonian papers don’t believe that the country’s next president will be elected in the upcoming voting rounds in the Riigikogu. The election, which starts with today’s first ballot round, would then be postponed, and the electoral college would be called.

Daily Postimees expects the Social Democrats’ candidate, President of the Riigikogu Eiki Nestor, to score the most votes in Monday’s ballot round, mainly due to the fact that the Social Democrats and the ruling Reform Party have signed an agreement according to which they will support each other’s candidates in the first two voting rounds.

This would then pave the way for Reform’s candidate, Siim Kallas, who is expected to have the Social Democrats’ support in the second round tomorrow Tuesday.

The two parties control 45 votes out of the 68 necessary to elect the next president, which means Kallas will depend on the support of other MPs, most important among them those of the Center Party, the behavior of which will depend on its own last-minute deliberations as well as potential horse trading going on behind the scenes.

According to Postimees, one of the most interesting questions of the day is whether or not Jõks will get IRL and the Free Party’s votes, or if they will support Eiki Nestor instead.

Daily Eesti Päevaleht expects the Center Party to stick with Reps, which would block its parliamentary group’s 27 votes and make it impossible to elect the new president today, as both IRL and the Free Party can be expected to stick with their own candidate at least in the first voting round.

The paper is more careful predicting the outcome of the election’s second round scheduled for Tuesday, but doesn’t expect major change.

The only way the new head of state could be elected in parliament, Päevaleht speculates, would be if Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas (Reform) called a meeting of parties and get to some kind of agreement, which would then most likely benefit either Kallas or Reps, as they currently are the candidates with the most votes.

Such an agreement was highly unlikely, which meant that the election would eventually be postponed, and the electoral college called, Päevaleht wrote on Monday.

The most important question was that of the government, the paper added. If a deal could be found there, the Center Party might eventually be ready to go along with an agreement across party lines. The current government was tired, and its partners tired of each other, Päevaleht wrote, and the three coalition parties knew perfectly well that they wouldn’t hold on for the full four years.

Both papers agree that the Center Party is in a very comfortable position. There can’t be a deal to elect the next president in parliament without elevating them into government, and if the election is postponed to September, they get the chance to talk about topics ranging from local politics to the marginalization of communities and health care policy. Their candidate, Mailis Reps, has done plenty of work talking to representatives of the parishes, which makes her well prepared for potential voting rounds in the electoral college.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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