Jüri Ratas elected chairman of the Center Party
The Center Party’s extraordinary congress elected Jüri Ratas as its chairman on Saturday. Ratas won the election with 654 of 1,011 votes. Yana Toom, who will continue in the party’s leadership, got 348 votes. Against earlier announcements, founder and long-time chairman of the party, Edgar Savisaar, didn’t run, and didn’t attend the congress.
Ratas’ election continues the current trend of generational change in the major Estonian parties. With Savisaar leaving the position of the Center Party’s chairman, one of the dominant political figures of Estonia since the country’s independence from the USSR in 1991 is stepping off the political stage.
Though Savisaar announced on Friday that he didn’t intend to leave the party, or politics. He is famously the most popular politician in the country by personal votes received, and his resignation would mean the loss of thousands of votes for the Center Party.
The congress also elected the party’s new leadership. Its members are Mailis Reps, Kadri Simson, Enn Eesmaa, Jaak Aab, Taavi Aas, Aadu Must, Mihhail Kõlvart, Yana Toom, Anneli Ott, Raimond Kaljulaid, Olga Ivanova, Mihhail Korb, Siret Kotka, and Jaanus Karilaid.
Elected members of the party’s auditing committee are Olev Raju, Kalle Jõks, Anton Stalnuhhin, Lauri Laats, Andres Jaadla, Andres Kollist and Enn Toivo Annuk.
Ratas: Center Party will work with partners who agree economic standstill has to end
After his election, Ratas appointed Mailis Reps, Kadri Simson, Mihhail Kõlvart, and Jaanus Karilaid the party’s new deputy chairpersons, saying that he based this choice on the number of votes the candidates received. Karilaid was chosen because he had been deputy chairman also in the previous leadership under Edgar Savisaar.
Ratas said that it was time to replace the Reform Party’s government and get over the country’s continuing economic stagnation. “I clearly understand the responsibility and what is expected of the Center Party. And that is that the government led by the Reform Party and the standstill have to end,” he stressed.
He added that the party had to move forward working with anyone who agreed that Estonia needed to be taken out of the doldrums.