Isamaa is to boost its ranks in Tartu's city council chamber following an announcement that two councillors are to join its ranks, allowing the formation of a five-member political group there.
Isamaa won just three seats on Tartu's city council chamber at the October 2017 local elections – namely Mihhail Lotman, Anneli Kannus and the aptly-named Kaja Tarto – but the lineup will almost double in size with the new arrivals.
Isamaa is in office nationally with Center and the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE), and is a broadly national-conservative, and largely free-market oriented, party.
Tartu has long been a Reform Party-dominated town, and the party, currently in opposition at national level, has 20 councillors. The city's mayor, Urmas Klaas, is with Reform. Center has seven seats, the Social Democratic Party (SDE) eight, and councillors from EKRE, and two Tartu-specific political groups, Tartu Eest and Tartu Heaks – the latter being Merle Jääger's previous alignment - make up the balance.
Kaspar Kokk, Isamaa's Tartu County branch lader, says that Kõre and Jääger joining the party proves it is moving in the right direction.
"Ahead of next year's local elections, It's a win for both the Isamaa city council faction and the entire region, head of the next local elecions. I am glad that Merle and Jüri think that the best way to do things is with Isamaa," Kokk said.
Party leader and deputy Riigikogu speaker Helir-Valdor Seeder says that national politics is always broadly reflected in Estonia's second city.
"Over the last few years, Isamaa has clearly strengthened in Tartu. I am sure that this trend is viable and that Tartu will continue to foster a patriotic spirit," Seeder said.
Merle Jääger said the party chimed with her general worldview, noting she had already run for Isamaa at the national level, in March 2019.
"I had already running on Isamaa's list at the Riigikogu elections. In the course of my daily work on the council, I can see that the party and I have common ground," she said.
Jüri Kõre meanwhile bemoaned the gulf between local and national politics, though added that this could be improved with his new party.
"Some [parties or political groups] have strengths, but they lack ideas on what to implement. Others have ideas, but not enough strength. Isamaa's political grouping [in Tartu] and the Isamaa party behind it is dramatically expanding our space for action," he said.
Editor: Andrew Whyte