Refom and Center meet first presidential candidates
The parliamentary groups of the Reform and Center parties began their meetings with potential presidential candidates this week. Former EU commissioner Siim Kallas (Reform) and current Minister of Foreign Affairs Marina Kaljurand (independent) were the first to be interviewed.
Kallas met with his own party’s members of parliament on Tuesday. MP Martin Kukk (Reform) said after the meeting that the discussion and questions had been very thorough, and that Kallas had talked about his plans in great detail.
The candidate himself said that despite the fact that his colleagues knew him inside out, the questions had been serious, and that not everybody had agreed on all points.
Two years ago Kallas’ bid to become prime minister after Andrus Ansip’s departure failed. Asked if he was worried that his candidacy for the presidency might take a similar turn, Kallas said that he wasn’t worried, as this time it was all about him and his personality, and not about wider concerns in his party or the coalition.
Center Party: Kallas’ views have shifted towards the center
MP Jaanus Karilaid (Center) said after his parliamentary group’s meeting with Kallas on Wednesday that there hadn’t been any aggressive questions, and that the party saw this meeting as the first, to hear about Kallas’ views on Estonia’s social and economic future.
Kallas had come across as open-minded and had answered the MPs’ questions exhaustively.
While Karilaid thought that Kallas’ views had shifted towards the middle, chairwoman of Center’s parliamentary group Kadri Simson said that there were areas where Kallas’ opinion and that of the party diverged substantially, for example in matters of taxation.
Reform: Both Kallas and Kaljurand would make very good presidents
Foreign Minister Marina Kaljurand met with the Reform Party’s parliamentary group on Wednesday. MP Urve Tiidus (Reform) said to ERR’s Estonian news portal that the meeting lasted over an hour and all questions were answered in detail.
“There were are lot of questions both about international and domestic politics. A lot of questions were of course about Marina’s current field of work,” Tiidus said, and added that the meeting had been productive.
Tiidus also said that Kaljurand and Kallas were different people, but that she thought that both would make very good presidents. Asked about her personal preference, Tiidus said that things hadn’t developed far enough for that.
The Reform Party’s parliamentary group will meet with MEP Urmas Paet (Reform) next.
So far, possible candidates include former EU commissioner Siim Kallas, Foreign Minister Marina Kaljurand, diplomat Jaak Jõerüüt, and MEP Urmas Paet. Chairman of the Center Party Edgar Savisaar has expressed interest, but hasn’t confirmed his intention to run.
To be a candidate in the election in August, they need the support of at least 21 members of the Riigikogu. If no candidate reaches a supermajority of two thirds of the Riigikogu’s votes in three balloting rounds, the election is postponed, and a special electoral college convenes. The electoral college is made up of the Riigikogu’s members as well as representatives of Estonia’s local governments.