Meet the six still in the running towards becoming Center Party's next chairman (1)

Support to Center Party chairman candidates by district: Blue - several candidates, orange - Savisaar, purple - Simson, light green - Savisaar and Simson, dark green - Simson and Karilaid. (ERR)
11/17/2015 2:05 PM
Category: Politics

Seven people set up their candidancy to become the next chair(wo)man of the Center Party, Estonia's largest opposition party which is also at the helm of Tallinn City Government. Jaanus Karilaid withdraw from the race on Tuesday.

Whereas two top contenders, long-term chairman Edgar Savisaar and his former protegee Kadri Simson, announced their candidacy already back in October, several more names became public only after registration closed on Monday.

The candidates are:

Edgar Savisaar - Center Party chairman since its creation in 1991. Savisaar is currently under investigation on corruption charges and has been suspended from the mayor's office for the duration of the investigation. You can read more about the case here. Votes received in the last parliamentary elections in March 2015: 25,057.

Kadri Simson - Head of the Center Party faction in the Estonian Parliament and party's deputy head. Simson has been active in politics since 1999 and has been an MP since 2007, heading the faction since 2009. Votes received in March elections: 5,726.

Yana Toom - MEP since 2014, and MP from 2011-2014. Before that Toom was deputy mayor of Tallinn. She has been a party member since 2009. Toom was granted Estonian citizenship in 2006 on the request of Savisaar for her special services to Estonia. Votes received in March elections: 11,574.

Toomas Vitsut - Chairman of the Tallinn City Council since 2005 and former deputy mayor. Vitsut has publicly confirmed that he is only running to support Simson. Votes received in March elections: 503.

Mihhail Stalnuhhin - MP and chairman of the Parliament's State Budget Control Select Committee. Former chairman of Narva City Council from 2003-2011. Stalnuhhin was recently marred by revelations that he was using his MP's expense account to lease an SUV for his family, holding no drivers license of his own. Stalnuhhin too is running in support of Simson. Votes received in March elections: 3,648.

Kerstin-Oudekki Loone - political scientist, activist and publicist. Loone has not held any high-ranking positions in the party and only became a member in 2015. She has been a lector for the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratization since 2012 and worked as election observer in various foreign missions. Votes received in March elections: 354.

Above, from left: Jaanus Karilaid, Yana Toom, Toomas Vitsut. Below: Kerstin-Oudekki Loone, Mihhail Stalnuhhin.

Jaanus Karilaid withdraw his candidacy in support of Savisaar less than a week before the election day, saying he has succeeded in creating a debate within the party.

Before becoming an MP in 2015, Karilaid was the chairman of Haapsalu City Council. Staunch supporter of Savisaar. He received 1,056 votes in March elections.

The new leader will be elected on November 29, when the Center Party holds its XV Party Congress.

M. Oll

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