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Kadri Simson runs against Savisaar for Center Party leadership

Kadri Simson, head of the Center Party faction in the Estonian Parliament, has agreed to stand for the party's chairman position.

Simson was proposed as a candidate by the party's Narva branch and she gave her consent.

“We decided to put forward Simson's name as the candidate for head of the Center Party, and Edgar Savisaar as an honorary chairman,” Andrus Tamm from the local Center Party affiliate told ERR.

Simson announced in the social media that she "cares for Savisaar's health and has therefore decided to offer him a relief, by running as a candidate."

Tamm explained that the decision is based on many aspects, not least due to Savisaar's ill health. “Our suggestion is mainly based on humane grounds. A person who has suffered a serious health condition and who is under intense strain, must amass strength, in order to withstand pressure. We would like to see Savisaar continuing in politics, but with a strong health,” Tamm said.

Tamm disclosed that Center Party's Narva politicians also spoke to Jüri Ratas, currently serving as a deputy speaker at the Parliament, but eventually selected Simson. “Simson has proven herself as a long-standing and consistent promoter of Center Party values,” Tamm said, adding that Narva branch will not remain the only one of the party's regional offshoots supporting Simson as a candidate.

Savisaar (65) said in September that he will run again at the upcoming party internal elections in November, in a bid to remain at the head of the party. Until today, no other candidates had emerged and Simson has always been considered a loyal supporter of Savisaar, a life-long friend of her dad, a historian Aadu Must.

“A number of well-known Center Party members have turned to me and asked me to run. I believe it is too early to step down. There is still much to be done and I will leave nothing unfinished. I will take on anyone at the party congress and in the end, it will all depend on who the people at the congress will give their backing for, who they trust and wish to see as leader,” Savisaar said in September, before the bribery allegations against him emerged.

Savisaar, Tallinn mayor since 2007 and widely accepted as an opposition leader in Estonia, was named suspect in four episodes of corruption on September 22 and suspended from mayor's office, pending investigation, on September 30 by the Harju County Court. He has so far rejected all the accusations against him.

Savisaar has been the party's head since its formation in 1991, minus about six months in the mid-90s.

Simson (38), was born in Tartu and earned her law degree from the University of Tartu, while doing her MA in political science at the University College London. Active in politics since 1999, she started as an adviser to Tallinn City Council. Simson has been an MP since 2007, heading the Center Party's faction since 2009. In last Parliament election, she received almost 6,000 votes.

The Center Party is one of the four largest political parties in Estonia and currently has 27 seats in the Parliament, second only to Reform Party.

Editor: S. Tambur

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