Center Party pledges to find own candidate for president
Party general secretary Priit Toobal said the Center Party should find its own candidate for president, when Toomas Hendrik Ilves's term ends in a little over a year.
“It is highly probable that the next president will not be elected in Parliament, but in the electoral college. And the electoral college should also name a Center Party candidate,” Toobal said.
Toobal said the party may seek a candidate from outside of its own ranks, as it did in 2011, when Indrek Tarand ran against Ilves. Ilves won that election by 73 votes to 25 in the first round in Parliament.
Postimees reported last week that the Reform Party has discussed three possible candidates for Ilves's job. New Foreign Minister Marina Kaljurand and former PM Siim Kallas have already been mentioned, but now former FM and current MEP Urmas Paet's name has also been thrown into the mix.
The Center Party is one of only two parties, along with the ruling Reform Party, which has the 21 MPs required to register a candidate.
Any candidate will then need to gather the support of 68 MPs, from 101, to win the election for president. If none achieve that goal, the next president will be named by a electoral collage consisting of all MPs and around 250 local government representatives. Any successful candidate will need 50 percent + 1 vote in the electoral college. Candidates can also be registered in the electoral college.
In 2006, Ene Ergma was the only candidate in the first round, but could only muster 65 votes. Ilves was the only candidate in the second round in Parliament, gathering 64 votes. Ilves again won 64 votes in the third round. In the electoral college, Ilves narrowly beat former President Arnold Rüütel by 174 to 162 votes.
Five years earlier Peeter Kreitzberg (40 votes) beat Andres Tarand (38) in the first round, then he beat Peeter Tulviste 36 to 35 votes in the second round and the two were tied in the final Parliament round with 33 votes each.
Rüütel won the first round in the electoral college with 114 votes, not enough to win outright. He beat Toomas Savi by 186 to 155 votes in the next round and was named president.
In 1996, Lennart Meri won in the first round with 45 votes, against Rüütel's 34, and also in the second round (49 to 34 votes) and third round (52 to 32). Meri picked up 139 votes in the first round in the electoral college, against Rüütel's 85, before receiving the necessary 50 percent + 1vote in the next round. 196 delegates voted for Meri, 126 for Rüütel.
The first re-independence presidential vote was a national vote, but none of the four candidates won enough votes with Rüütel winning 41.8 percent, Meri 29.5, Rein Taagepera 23.4 and Lagle Parek 4.2 percent of the vote.
The next round was conducted in Parliament, where Meri won 59 and Rüütel 31 votes. According to election legislation at the time, Meri had collected enough votes, and was named president.