Center Party withdraws bill demanding president’s direct election
The Center Party along with the Estonian Conservative People’s Party (EKRE) have withdrawn a bill calling for the direct election of the President of the Republic. The Center Party said on Wednesday that this had been done because the government was planning to take up the issue.
Chairwoman of Center’s parliamentary group, Kersti Sarapuu, told ERR on Wednesday that changing the election procedure was part of the government’s program, and that broad support needed to be found for any such effort.
It was up to the Center Party to withdraw the bill. EKRE, though part of the original effort, only has seven mandates, whereas 16 votes are needed for a withdrawal, which the Center Party could easily get from its own MPs.
EKRE’s reaction was harsh, with MP Jaak Madison calling Center "traitors" and "two-faced" on social media, saying that EKRE was now "the only group supporting the direct election of the president."
Center Party chairman and prime minister, Jüri Ratas, said that the government’s program included the issue, and that the Ministry of Justice would take up the topic in the next months. “The Center Party is of the opinion that the people should elect the president,” Ratas said, though adding that an according change of the Constitution needed support in the government as well as in the Riigikogu.