Mart Helme to step down as EKRE leader

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Mart Helme is stepping down as EKRE leader, effective from early July. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Mart Helme has announced he will not be running as chair of the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) at the party congress on July 4, meaning he is stepping down. Helme said that having been chair since the party's founding in 2012, it was now time to move on, recommending supporters pick Martin Helme, the current vice-chair, as his replacement.

"I have been the party's chair for eight years, more than a tenth of my life," said Helme, who took on the role in 2012 when EKRE was founded. The party entered into political office in late April 2019 after winning 19 seats at the March general election; Helme is interior minister in the current administration.

"We still have a long way to go. After the next election, we need to be the party of the prime minister, and to accomplish this we need to shake ourselves out of the comfort zone and carry things out with fresh energy and a new look. I'll start on this myself - it's time to give the party a boost," he went on.

EKRE has one MEP, Jaak Madison.

Talking to ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) later on Saturday, Helme said that so far as he was aware, no candidate other than Martin and himself had been nominated to run, making Martin Helme de facto the EKRE leader-in-waiting.

"Once I have stepped down, Martin Helme's candidacy will probably remain in place and I have no doubt that he will be elected," said Mart Helme.

Martin Helme: Our party has its eye on presidency too

Martin Helme, i.e. the son and finance minister, also said that the presidency would also be of interest to his party.

"Traditionally, the presidency has not been considered to sit well with the same party as the head of government (at present Jüri Ratas' party, Center – ed.), because there would then bee too much of a vertical of power. Given the current coalition, however, we want to find a common candidate within it," Helme told AK, adding that his father, Mart, would be ideal.

Estonian presidents constitutionally cannot belong to or represent any political party regardless of what their political background might have been.

EKRE political statement on the protection of Western cultural heritage

EKRE's council also issued a political statement calling for the protection of western cultural heritage, memory and identity, ERR's online news in Estonian reports.

"Nowadays, it is clear that the wave of violence and looting in America and Europe which began at the end of May 2020 is not a struggle for black rights," the party council statement read.

"By using the anti-racism banner and the death of a serial recidivist as a fig leaf, success is being driven by a hostile ideology, the fruits of which include the terror regimes of the 20th century: Stalinist Russia, Maoist China, Cuba, and North Korea. We have seen the failure of the same ideology in Venezuela in the 21st century," the statement continued.

While the ideology may preach freedom and equality, in actuality it involves looting and vandalism, censorship and the repression of those who speak out on the issue, and has become the dominant ideology in western higher education institutions, cultural circles and the media, as well as big business the statement said.

"History has shown that all revolutions based on Marxist ideology have ended in massacre and spiritual and economic destruction," it added.

Helme: Not a snap decision

As to his decision, Helme said that this had not been made lightly, or in a fit of emotional pique, nor under any duress, adding that it did not represent a step back from political cut and thrust.

"I am doing this to increase the dynamism of the party. I am doing it to create new opportunities and perspectives for us. This is my personal and long-nurtured decision. I assure all my supporters within the party, and among the electorate, that I do not intend to stay away from politics or the work of the party, and am running for party vice-chairmanship."

"I would like to thank all those who have nominated me as chairman, but I confirm that I will resign and I recommend that they vote for [finance minister, current EKRE vice-chair and Mart's son] Martin Helme," he concluded.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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