Social Democrats back Marina Kaljurand for president
The Social Democratic Party's (SDE) Board of Directors and electors, who convened on Monday night to discuss the party's presidential preferences, decided not to nominate prior SDE candidate Eiki Nestor to the electoral college round of elections, instead choosing in large part to back Marina Kaljurand, as "Estonia is ready for its first female president."
"We will not be nominating our own candidate, as the presidential elections are not a beauty pageant in which each party attemtps to show off its most beautiful sons and daughters to the crowd," SDE Chairman Jevgeni Ossinovski told ERR's online news portal shortly after the Monday night meeting ended. "I'd recall the fact that we are electing a president for Estonia. In our opinion it is important that the president is elected on Sept. 24."
Ossinovski noted that support for Kaljurand was strong among their party's electors, and that the party believes that Estonia is ready for its first female president.
"At today's meeting our parliamentary group, she confirmed that inequality is the biggest issue in Estonian society," said the party chairman. "Likewise she shares our vision of an open Estonia and the equal treatment of all of Estonia's people. Thus, she shares the SDE's core values."
Ossinovski stressed, however, that the SDE is a democratic party, their electors are free to vote for who they want and will not have to worry about finding a new party to join if they vote according to their conscience.
Speaking in ETV's "Aktuaalne kaamera" live studio, the party chairman explained that the only formal decision made at Monday night's meeting was Eiki Nestor's decision not to run anymore.
"While Eiki Nestor is in our opinion the best candidate, we understand that each party cannot nominate its own candidate, or else Estonia's president will remain unelected," said Ossinovski.
He denied the suggestion that the Social Demcrats' decision to back Marina Kaljurand, not Siim Kallas, as the coalition partner Reform Party did, could lead to the breakup of the current Estonian government.
"The presidential ellections do not remotely affect the composition of the government," asserted Ossinovski.
Social Democrats' support not unanimous
Estonian daily Eesti Päevaleht reported on Tuesday that all 42 SDE electors were not in fact present on Monday night.
While according to the paper most of them would have wanted to see Nestor to run for president, as the latter confirmed at yesterday's meeting that he would not be running anymore, there was support apparent for Kaljurand and Kallas alike among the SDE's electors, and by some indications some support for Center Party candidate Mailis Reps as well.
In a release issued by Kaljurand's campaign manager Andreas Kaju, Kaju called upon the SDE's electors to join Kaljurand's existing team of electors and supporters "...so that the public's opinion could become the opinion of the majority of the electoral college on Sept. 24."