Former Riigikogu president Ene Ergma leaves IRL (1)

Former longtime President of the Riigikogu Ene Ergma participating in an event at the Estonian Academy of Sciences. (Siim Lõvi/ERR)
By Madis Hindre, Susann Kivi
6/3/2016 10:50 AM
Category: News

On Wednesday, June 1, Ene Ergma, who served as President of the Riigikogu from 2003-2006 and from 2007-2014, submitted a request to the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union’s (IRL) Board of Directors to leave the party whose member she had been since 2002.

According to Ergma, the main reason she decided to leave the party was because, in her opinion, the party had lost its identity and turned populist, reported ETV’s nightly news broadcast “Aktuaalne kaamera.”

Ergma noted that it is a party’s leading politicians who define the face of the party. “I can no longer understand who we are and where we are,” she explained. “We have long tried to be the party of education, but now this isn’t discussed at all anymore.”

In the former Riigikogu president’s opinion, the party needs to deal with its core voters, but it cannot descend into wide-eyed hoping to rope in more voters, adding that “Such a campaigning political party isn’t trusted.”

Asked what IRL should do, Ergma responded that the party must remain true to itself.

She cited an example of what most recently had angered her in the party. “Last Saturday I attended a plenary meeting of the IRL,” said Ergma. “[Party chairman] Margus Tsahkna came and invited all of us to a discussion regarding IRL’s presidential candidate. Come Monday, it turned out that there was nothing to be discussed. This illustrates their attitude toward people.”
In her opinion, what will become of the IRL would depend a great deal on its leadership.

“IRL is comprised of quite wonderful people, but in my opinion, its leadership has lost its spine, and it’s a shame if they aren’t capable of finding it again,” said Ergma. “I’m terribly sorry that things have gone this way, but I can’t blame myself for leaving.” The former Riigikogu president noted that she had repeatedly tried to point out things that [the party] shouldn’t do or advertise, but her warnings went unheeded.

“For example, during European Parliament elections, IRL’s slogan was ‘Fighting corruption in the EU,’” recalled Ergma. “As a scientist, this was nonsense to me. But everyone was amazed that it went over so well in the municipal elections in Tallinn. There was a specific person in the local elections who had once been suspected of corruption, so it worked there, but this does not work in the EU.”

From 2003-2006, Ergma served as the President of the Riigikogu. From 2006-2007 she served as its Vice-President, after which she was once again elected as President of the Riigikogu, a role in which she then served from 2007-2014. In 2007 and 2012, she was also elected Vice-Chairman of IRL.

Commenting on Ergma’s decision to leave the party, current IRL Chairman Margus Tsahkna noted that it seems like leaving politics may be harder than it seems.

“To Ene, my longtime colleague whom I have supported repeatedly, I say that she could do the Riigikogu’s president’s duties, and it has been good that she has been involved in politics, but it seems like leaving politics may be harder than one could imagine,” Tsahkna told “Aktuaalne kaamera.”

Editor: Aili Sarapik

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