Center: Ethnic Russians and Social Equality in Spotlight
The party almost got three seats in 2009, but its more internationally-capable and mainstream membership has eroded over conflicts with its powerful leader and the Tallinn political machine. Some members' comments on Ukraine have also caused consternation, with right-wing parties painting the prospect of an allegedly obstructionist MEP similar to Latvia's Tatyana Zhdanoka. On the surface, though, the party's Europlanks have a reasonable ring.
Pro-EU, but notes it is high time for EU well-being to spread to Estonia. Supports a minimum EU pension. Champions progressive personal income tax and a classic corporate income tax. Supports a diverse, culturally and religiously plural Estonia, considering this to be the European way. Backs electrical system connectivity with Europe (and as a general theme throughout their program, reducing pressure on consumer pocketbooks from utilities). Equal treatment for agriculture and fishery sectors.
"Won" the last 2009 election with the highest percentage of the vote, 26 percent, and most significantly came just seven individual votes away from a third seat in European Parliament - the Social Democrats, who did so well in 2004, would thus not have got in at all.
Vilja Savisaar-Toomast, who was elected to the European Parliament as part of the Center Party, later quit the party and joined the Reform Party. The other MP, Siiri Oviir, who also quit the party, has been a fairly quiet presence in the European Parliament. She is not running this time.
Party members have spoken about it being time for an ethnic Russian to make it to European Parliament, paralleling Jevgeni Ossinovski's (Social Democrats) recent posting to the Cabinet. Edgar Savisaar, massively popular, will bring in a mandate but has said he will not take his seat. Ratas could. Mihhail Stalnuhhin thus stands as the best poised ethnic Russian to do so. Like some other members of the party, he hasoccasionally made questionable pronouncements (regarding post-WWII themes, for instance) suggesting a view of history different from the one enshrined in Estonia's basic laws. As such, he may be less palatable to Estonian voters than, say, a politician such as Ossinovski.
Edgar Savisaar - mayor of Tallinn, former PM
Jüri Ratas - longtime Parliament leader, former Tallinn mayor
Mihhail Stalnuhhin - MP, former Narva city council head
Kerstin Oudekki Loone