Mart Helme's announcement not to run again for leadership of the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) was well-timed and gives the party enough time to adjust to a new leader, said Martin Mölder, a political scientist at the University of Tartu.
Mölder told Vikerraadio show "Uudis+" on Monday the move is needed if the party wants to improve its level of support among women and younger voters and those with higher education.
"EKRE's support weaknesses are that they have very low support among women, and very low support among younger voters as well as among voters with higher education," Mölder said, which need to be addressed if the party is to achieve its goal of becoming the party of the prime minister.
He said if EKRE is to attract more support among women, younger voters and those with higher education it could achieve 25 percent of the votes cast and finish second in the elections.
EKRE entered office for the first time last April, but is the smaller party by Riigikogu seats, on 19, than Prime Minister Jüri Ratas' party, Center, with whom it is in coalition, along with Isamaa.
Mölder said the party is also still on its pre-general election mode in being seen as a protest party – something which it cannot drop.
EKRE chairman Mart Helme announced on Saturday he would not seek reelection at the party congress on July 4, recommending instead that vice chairman, finance minister, and his son, Martin take his place.
"Instead, under the leadership of Martin Helme, EKRE will aim to figure out how to move further in the same direction, rather than adapting," Mölder said, adding EKRE's goal is for the rest of the political system to adapt to them rather than vice versa.
He said Martin Helme exhibited a bit more tact and cunning than his father, adding that the party, founded in 2012, is still quite young and has not established a political elite yet – as evidenced by its difficulty in finding ministers. EKRE has had four IT and Foreign Trade minsters since April 2019.
He also said of those parties who could theoretically change themselves sufficiently to ever be in office with EKRE who have not already, Reform is a possibility, though the other opposition party, the Social Democratic Party (SDE), is not.
Editor: Andrew Whyte