Estonian MEP Kristiina Ojuland Ejected From Reform Party Over Alleged Vote Rigging (2)
The Reform Party, headed by Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, has cast out MEP Kristiina Ojuland for vote rigging in an internal party election in May.
After the scandal emerged in a newspaper report last week, Taimi Samblik, a regional development director, admitted to having secretly cast e-votes on behalf of roughly 40 elderly party members who later said they had not voted.
Samblik, who left the party today, said she had been persuaded to rig the votes by Ojuland in May, and in another leadership vote in 2011, by Lääne-Viru County Governor Einar Vallbaum, who has so far avoided being expelled.
Samblik has also claimed that Ojuland and Vallbaum recently approached her, offering her a year's salary and a month-long trip to Tenerife to wait for the scandal to blow over, in return for taking the blame wholly on herself.
The party has also accused Ojuland of paying the 10-euro annual party membership dues of 39 people whose votes were hijacked.
Ojuland has denied any part in vote rigging, claiming that the party has tried to frame her.
Despite calls to hold a new election, including from within the party, the Reform Party's court of honor said it did not have reason to doubt the legitimacy of the May election's results.
The party said damage had been done to the reputation of Estonia's pioneering e-election system, although the party's internal voting system is completely separate, allowing members to log in even through Facebook.
"A negative shadow has been cast on Estonia's whole e-election system due to the activities of a few people,” the party said.
The Reform Party has been the senior coalition party since 2005 and has around 10,000 members. Its leadership has 14 members, and Ojuland received the fifth-best result of 21 candidates in May. Altogether, 1,494 members voted, with all but 129 casting e-ballots.