Two candidates from the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) are in the running for the recently-vacated interior minister post, daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL) reports.
The two names EPL has reported (link in Estonian) are MP Leo Kunnas and Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) officer Mark Marjorov.
Of the two, Kunnas is seen as favorite, EPL reports, since he is not only a former EDF member but also sits on the Riigikogu's defense committee, meaning that he would be able to deal with the post's work.
Mart Helme recently stepped down in the wake of a furor after comments he made about the U.S. presidential elections and president-elect Joe Biden. Helme said Biden was an untrustworthy character and that civil war may be brewing; appearing on the same talk radio show Sunday, finance minister Martin Helme said the elections had been rigged.
The remarks prompted a backlash from prime minister Jüri Ratas (Center), foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) and defense minister Jüri Luik (Isamaa), who all pointed out the risks to Estonia's defense and security the remarks had caused.
As to Leo Kunnas' weak points, EPL said that these were firstly that he was not a party member himself (individuals can run on party lists in Estonia without actually being members; if elected, they would sit with that party's grouping at the Riigkogu, as Kunnas does with EKRE – ed.) and that he also holds views on the militarization of the eastern border (i.e. that this should happen) which are not contained in the 2019 coalition agreement EKRE signed with Center and Isamaa.
Mark Majorov is a former adviser to Mart Helme and as such knows the ministry's workings well. He has also been an EKRE member since May 2019, ERR's online news in Estonian reports, reports, but according to EPL has little media communication experience.
Mart Helme himself also told daily Õhtuleht (link in Estonian) that the list of candidates for the role was relatively long, adding that the party would like to bring in an outsider, rather than select one from its cadre of MPs – a practise it recently used in appointing Rain Epler as new environment minister – which would make Majorov a favourite over Kunnas and two other names touted by Õhtuleht, MPs Anti Poolamets and Alar Laneman.
Editor: Andrew Whyte