Nestor: The next president will be elected by the Riigikogu
President of the Riigikogu and the Social Democrats’ presidential hopeful, Eiki Nestor, said in an interview with Hiiu Leht that he believed the country’s next president would be elected by parliament. What counted, he said, was how many MPs were ready to find a candidate together with another party than their own.
The common expectation that the president would likely be chosen by the electoral college rather than the Riigikogu was based on the fact that everybody was counting who was in which candidate’s favor, Nestor said.
But what really mattered was how many members of parliament were ready to compromise and look for a common candidate.
The electoral college is convened only if the Riigikogu can’t agree on a candidate in three ballot rounds. This could happen if parties stiffly insisted on their own candidates, instead of trying to find a way to nominate someone that would be an agreeable president for the majority of MPs.
Outgoing president Toomas Hendrik Ilves was elected by the college in 2006. But back then the situation was different: The Center Party had blocked the election in parliament because it hoped to get then incumbent president Arnold Rüütel elected by the college for a second term. As the college is made up of MPs as well as representatives of all of the country’s parishes, Savisaar’s party was counting on its support in the countryside. The plan failed, and Ilves was elected.
Talks between parties have been productive
Nestor said that as of Jun. 14, 85 members of the Riigikogu were ready to work together to find a suitable candidate. The talks leading to this result had included all parties except the Free Party and the Conservative People’s Party (EKRE), both of which entered the Riigikogu in 2015 with the support of the protest vote, and have been running their parliamentary policy accordingly.
The Social Democrats don’t have the votes to bring in their own candidate - to stand for election, a candidate needs to be nominated by 21 MPs. The Social Democrats only have 15 seats in the current parliament.
Nestor said that he didn’t know about the Free Party, but he hoped that there would be people in its parliamentary group ready to find a common candidate. The coalition parties and the Center Party certainly had shown their readiness. “It may well be that EKRE are the only ones who aren’t interested in an election in the Riigikogu at all,” Nestor said.
His own prediction is that the parties will find a common candidate - but only after all of the hopefuls had gone through fire and water.
Asked about the kind of president he would be, Nestor had said earlier that he’d be the kind people would recognize - if not as one of them, then as one of their neighors, or neighbors’ neighbors.
He said that it was important to him to have a clear position in matters of values - which included a clear opinion of those, for example, who said that a 27-year-old unmarried woman without children was a “damaging element” of society (a statement made by EKRE’s Martin Helme). “You’ll have to forgive me, but this kind of idiot can be found elsewhere in Europe as well. That’s part of freedom - the freedom to be ignorant.”