Center Party revives direct presidential election idea (1)

President Toomas Hendrik Ilves arriving at the Tegel Airport (Raigo Pajula)
9/22/2015 2:08 PM
Category: Politics

A Center Party draft law to turn the presidential election into a popular vote, from the current system where the president is elected by Parliament or by an electoral college, has entered Parliament floor for its first reading.

Constitutional Committee member and Center Party MP Priit Toobal said that a president elected by the people would be closer to the people.

Toobal said all other parties rejected the idea, saying Estonia is a parliamentary state and one should not change the constitution so freely.

Toobal added that the aim is not to change Estonia into a presidential nation as the president's powers and restrictions would remain the same. Toobal said Lithuania is a good example, where the president has similar powers to Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, but is elected directly.

One main question is whether residents or only citizens could vote. Estonia has a sizable population without citizenship, but with residency permit, allowing them to vote at local, but not at national elections. The Center Party fairs far better at the local level.

The Center Party has little luck with its candidates for president, with the party's candidate at the 2011 presidential elections, Indrek Tarand, receiving only 25 votes in Parliament, compared to Ilves's 73.

Estonia will hold its next presidential elections in August, 2016.

J.M. Laats

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