Rainer Vakra elected Tallinn city council Social Democrats' leader

Rainer Vakra.
Rainer Vakra. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The Social Democratic Party (SDE) Tallinn city council faction has elected Rainer Vakra as its leader.

Vakra, who is currently assisting Sven Mikser, one of SDE's two MEPs, was a district elder in Tallinn's Nõmme district 2005-2011.

Vakra had previously told the party that he was ready to contribute to the leadership of its Tallinn grouping once he had successfully defended himself from allegations of academic plagiarism dating back to before his political career, and that he would represent Nõmme as his first priority, also touting the idea of the district having a greater autonomy from Tallinnn.

"I communicate with people living in Nõmme on a daily basis, and many people there are very dissatisfied that there have been no significant investments in the city budget. I do not rule out the possibility that the people of Nõmme have come to the view that, as an independent self-governing district, the community could engage in road construction as well as have schools and kindergartens better than are at present in Tallinn as a whole," Vakra said, according to ERR.

Nõmme is a distinct neighborhood in the southern outskirts of the capital and was once a separate town. The name Nõmme derives from the Estonian word for heathland.

As chairman of the SDE Group, Mr Vakra said he would certainly want to do more to ensure that every citizen in the district receives the service he or she deserves, without having to to pay for other regions' interests and investments.

"Could Nõmme have a local council and control over the budget of taxes paid by the people of Nõmme? I do not rule out that this is an issue that should be seriously addressed in the forthcoming local election campaign (in 2021-ed.). In my opinion, Nõmme could freely be something like the Vatican is to Rome," he went on.

Rainer Vakra has been an SDE member since 2013, and has sat on Tallinn city council chamber since 2017. Tallinn City Government is solely made up by Center Party deputies. SDE, along with Reform, Isamaa and the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) are in opposition.

Vakra successfully defended a new bachelor's thesis in January following a Tallinn University ruling last March last year that his previous bachelor's thesis was to a large extent plagiarized, adding that Rector Tiit Land should cancel Vakra's diploma.

Land opted to do this, but to let Vakra retain his master's degree pending writing a new bachelor's thesis within a two-year period, which Vakra duly did.

The original bachelor's thesis connected with the plagiarism allegations dates from 2002, before Vakra commenced his political career.

SDE's overall Tallinn regional leader is Raimond Kaljulaid, elected in January.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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