Public figures appeal to electoral college members to nominate Marina Kaljurand (2)

Minister of Foreign Affairs Marina Kaljurand is the most popular potential candidate with the Estonian people. (Postimees/Scanpix)
BNS
8/31/2016 4:51 PM
Category: News

After the Reform Party’s decision late on Tuesday to support only Siim Kallas as their candidate, the foreign minister’s supporters are beginning to speak up. About 50 public figures have signed an appeal to the electoral college to nominate Foreign Minister Marina Kaljurand (independent) as candidate for president.

“Three rounds of voting in the Riigikogu demonstrated that none of the candidates nominated managed to gather above-party support behind them. Therefore we are calling on you to turn a new page and nominate in the electoral college the candidate who, during all of the past year, has enjoyed the highest support of the people of Estonia regardless of their party preference, community, and native language - Marina Kaljurand,” the appeal reads.

“We invite members of the electoral college to nominate Marina Kaljurand so that a patriot of Estonia and a passionate European, an excellent diplomat and the first female head of state, who has proven with her actions so far that she can be counted on, would become the next President of Estonia.”

Referring to Kaljurand's ethnic Russian background, the authors of the appeal describe her as someone who would unite ethnic communities and world views, create a sense of security in Estonia, and inspire and encourage our people regardless of their native language.

The leadership of the Reform Party decided late on Tuesday to back Siim Kallas as the party’s presidential candidate in the electoral college.

Saarts: Nomination of Kaljurand would demonstrate split in Reform Party

"It seemed in the meantime that the Reform Party doesn't wish to make a choice between Kallas and Kaljurand and peace within the party is more important to them than the possibility to get their own person into the office of the president, which is why they apparently would have gone to the electoral body with two candidates,” Tõnis Saarts, a political scientist with Tallinn University, told BNS on Wednesday.

“However, the defection of votes in the Riigikogu yesterday and the day before resulted in an awkward situation, and pressure from the public and taunting remarks by rivals forced Taavi Rõivas to be resolute,” Saarts added.

He said that, likewise, Rõivas had needed to reassert his authority within the party.

“Had he remained ambiguous, he would have looked like a leader with no courage to people both inside and outside of the party, a leader who is prepared to let the party’s chances in the presidential election go downstream for the sake of being liked by everyone,” Saarts said.

“If Kaljurand and her supporters start a mutiny and nominate Kaljurand in the electoral body regardless, we will be talking about a split and a serious internal crisis in the Reform Party for the first time in its history,” Saarts said. “In the worst case, this could cost Rõivas the chairmanship of the party, if he is unable to restore peace within the party quickly and effectively.”

The present events may prove a crucial test of Rõivas's maturity as leader of the party, Saarts opined. “If Rõivas fails this test, the party is likely to get a new leader in the coming couple of years.”

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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