Presidential election: Social Democrats still behind Kallas despite Reform letdown (1)

Despite assurances by Reform leader and prime minister Taavi Rõivas that his party would stick to the deal and support SDE’s Eiki Nestor, five Reform MPs didn't toe the line. This puts Reform’s own candidate at risk in the second round (Siim Lõvi /ERR)
8/30/2016 9:14 AM
Category: News

The Reform Party broke its deal with the Social Democrats to support Eiki Nestor in the first voting round on Monday. According to Social Democratic chairman Jevgeni Ossinovski, they still intend to support Kallas. Meanwhile, prime minister and Reform chairman Taavi Rõivas is taking heavy criticism.

The second and third voting rounds are scheduled for 12:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. today Tuesday. Candidates in the second round are Mailis Reps for the Center Party, Allar Jõks for IRL and the Free Party, and Siim Kallas for his own Reform Party as well as the Social Democrats.

The third round, to start at 4:00 p.m., is a runoff between the two strongest candidates of the second round, most likely Mailis Reps (Center) and Siim Kallas (Reform).

Social Democrats will support Kallas in second round despite Reform breaking parties’ agreement

The leadership of the Social Democratic Party (SDE) decided after the first voting round of the presidential election on Monday to still go ahead and support the Reform Party’s candidate, Siim Kallas, in the second round today Tuesday.

The two parties entered the election after signing an agreement that stated that Reform would support SDE’s candidate in the first round, after which SDE would then support Reform’s candidate in the second round. The deal was questioned after the first voting round in the Riigikogu made it clear that some of Reform’s MPs had not voted for SDE’s candidate, Eiki Nestor.

As Reform MP Eerik-Niiles Kross confirmed to ERR on Monday, a meeting of Reform’s parliamentary party before the vote made it clear that everybody would support Nestor. The actual result diverged from the deal by five votes.

SDE chairman and Minister of Health and Labour Jevgeni Ossinovski called the result of the first round an “unpleasant surprise” and stated that it certainly didn’t encourage trust between the coalition partners.

The Social Democrats had all voted for Eiki Nestor, including Nestor himself, who is a member of parliament and currently serves as President of the Riigikogu, though as a candidate isn’t presiding over the ongoing election.

Who will the Social Democrats support in the third round?

The third voting round, scheduled for 4:00 p.m. today Tuesday, is a runoff between the two strongest candidates in the second round, which will take place at 12:00 p.m. also on Tuesday. SDE’s candidate isn’t in the race anymore, as the party has agreed to support Reform’s Siim Kallas.

Asked who SDE was going to support in the runoff, Ossinovski hinted that the party originally intended to stick to the agreement with Reform, but that after the latter had broken the agreement there were now “all kinds of considerations” going around. Still, he confirmed that his party fully intended to support Kallas in the second round.

Papers: What happened in the first round shows how weak the prime minister is

Both Postimees and Eesti Päevaleht, the country’s largest dailies, led with comment on the election. Päevaleht wrote that what happened in the first round on Monday showed that Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas (Reform) hadn’t managed to keep his party in line, and that Reform had made mistakes leading up to the presidential election.

“What could be better proof of the weakness of the party’s leader? Just minutes before the announcement of the election result, Taavi Rõivas said that the Reform Party certainly supported Eiki Nestor in the first and Siim Kallas in the second round. But in reality, Nestor got five votes less than he would have got if the Reform Party had stuck to its deal with the Social Democrats,” Päevaleht wrote.

Postimees found that the situation was proof that Taavi Rõivas had failed as the Reform Party’s chairman. “The inability to make decisions as well as the wish to play two games at once, neither of which he managed to control, has led to deadlock in the party as well as in the coalition,” the paper wrote on Tuesday.

Postimees added that the result showed a double disappointment, showing that the Reform Party couldn’t be expected to stick to agreements, while its members were unable to stick to agreements internally as well.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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