Newspaper: Reform to choose potential presidential candidate in early August

Marina Kaljurand and Siim Kallas (Postimees/Scanpix)
7/20/2016 8:37 AM
Category: News

According to daily Eesti Päevaleht, the Reform Party’s leadership will name their preference for the presidential elections on Aug. 3. There are three potential candidates, namely former EC commissioner Siim Kallas, Foreign Minister Marina Kaljurand, and member of the European Parliament Urmas Paet. The party confirmed the report on Wednesday morning.

Even though the leadership’s eventual choice for the elections has been referred to as its “candidate”, in fact all candidates for the presidency need to be endorsed by 21 members of the Riigikogu - and this procedure starts just four days before the elections next month.

This means that the leaderships of the political parties specify a preference. Whether or not this preference then turns into a candidate is up to the MPs.

Päevaleht wrote on Wednesday that the party’s choice will depend on negotiations with other parties as well. If Estonia’s next president is to be elected in parliament, these are necessary, as no single block can mobilize the votes necessary to get a candidate elected.

While it sees Paet as a minor contender only, the paper expects neither Kaljurand nor Kallas to retreat. As the party didn’t pick their preference by means of voting, the eventual choice would likely be based on compromises, the paper wrote.

Kaljurand and party politics

Part of the ongoing political speculation around Foreign Minister Marina Kaljurand (independent) is her popularity. Currently, Kaljurand doesn’t belong to the Reform Party. If she were to join, some think it would be in the party’s interest to keep her from becoming president - as in the next parliamentary election they could expect her to bring them plenty of votes.

Kaljurand’s reluctance when it comes to party politics speaks against this. Made Minister of Foreign Affairs after her predecessor had to step down in connection with a fraud case her family was involved in, Kaljurand was appointed as an expert. A diplomat with many years’ experience, Kaljurand has given her office a distinct profile, and few doubt that she would be able to do the same as president.

Her reaction to her increasing popularity with the voters was extremely careful. At the point Siim Kallas announced his intention to run, Kaljurand hadn’t said anything, yet her popularity was far beyond that of the former EC commissioner.

There are plenty of signs that Kaljurand isn’t too keen to enter everyday politics. And, indeed, if the Reform Party really managed to convince her to join, her popularity wouldn’t make Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas’ life any easier.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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