Toomas Sildam: Speaker Põlluaas knows how to surprise

Henn Põlluaas.
Henn Põlluaas. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

President of the Riigikogu Hann Põlluaas delivers a surprise when he uses metered and friendly words, with board of the Riigikogu elections a mere month away, journalist Toomas Sildam writes.

If the people elect the parliament for a period of four years, the latter elects its president and two vice presidents annually. The three make up the board of the Riigikogu. The powers of the current board will expire on April 4, which is also when the new election is held.

That is the reason why Conservative People's Party (EKRE) politician Henn Põlluaas, known for demanding Russia return Petseri County and Ingria to Estonia, has been so friendly and soft-spoken lately, several politicians suggest. Põlluaas became the speaker a year ago that made him the second most important person in Estonia between the president and the prime minister who can step in for the head of state when needed. Põlluaas' election – he was supported by 55 MPs – was part of the coalition agreement between EKRE, Center Party and Isamaa.

EKRE are prepared to nominate Põlluaas for speaker once more, while several Center Party and Isamaa politicians have recently adopted a critical stance toward him. The reason – Põlluaas' visibly party-political management style in the parliament and his habit of voicing territorial demands that Estonia does not have.

However, let us recall that the coalition has 56 and the opposition – Reform Party, Social Democratic Party and Raimond Kaljulaid – just 45 votes. It is very hard to believe six or more Center and/or Isamaa MPs would vote for the opposition's candidate.

Even though Riigikogu elections are secret, all 101 MPs have mastered basic arithmetic and know that the coalition's candidate failing could spell doom for the government. Neither the Center Party that holds the position of PM nor Isamaa that still wants to move forward with the pension reform plan and does not want to find itself in the opposition with EKRE want that at the moment.

Despite the coalition's seemingly strong position, Põlluaas is loath to lose a single coalition vote and is trying to soften his image. He gave a modest and conciliatory speech on Independence Day, saying "we all need a united and strong Estonia where every person is valued."

Every person… This means valuing the social democrat and the national conservative alike, members of both the Reform Party and Isamaa, straight and gay people, liberals, conservatives, journalists, farmers etc.

Henn Põlluaas has a way of surprising us with his words, especially if he truly thinks that way.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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