Submitting a letter supporting Jõks as a possible candidate, the 14 public figures who signed it found that he wouldn’t represent any one political party, but rather could count on broad approval and take on the role of a unifying figure for Estonian society. Introducing his visions for the future and the presidency of Estonia in a press conference on Monday afternoon, Jõks himself confirmed his intentions to run for president in August.
The Estonian head of state couldn’t be a representative of just a single party, as expectations toward the presidency had changed, the 14 signatories wrote in support of Jõks. As part of a state and as citizens, people had had different objectives over the years, and it was becoming clear that people expected the next president to bring people together, they wrote.
The letter was signed by Andrei Sõritsa, Annika Uudelepp, Jaan Pillesaar, Joel Volkov, Jüri Käo, Jüri Saar, Mall Hellam, Mihhail Lotman, Peeter Volkonski, Raivo Vare, Rein Einasto, Teet Reedi, Terje Kross, and Tiit Ojasoo — entrepreneurs, actors, professors, intellectuals, and local politicians.
Jõks was an independent thinker and not afraid to express opinions and start debates that went beyond what was discussed in everyday politics, the statement read. The Estonian president had to protect the Constitution, unite the people, and be fair — Allar Jõks had done all that as a judge, as the Chancellor of Justice, and later on as an attorney.
Speaking at a press conference on Monday afternoon wherein he personally confirmed his intention to run for president, Jõks stressed that he has stood for justice for the past 15 years and he could do more effectively as president than by writing opinion pieces or giving comments to the media.
Summarizing his vision for Estonia’s future, he stated that he “would like for there to be more passion, more dignity, and a greater sense of responsibility in Estonian politics. I would like for Estonia to be more magnanimous and free of hate in five years.”
Jõks' vision of the presidency: dignity, freedom, responsibility
Jõks did not agree with the sentiment that the president does not affect anything in Estonia. “The presidential oath of office contained within the Constitution states that the president swears to protect the Constitution and to do so for the benefit of the Estonian people,” he pointed out. “This sequence — first the people, then the republic — is not accidental.”
Jõks introduced three keywords he considered critical for the institution of president — dignity, with which Estonia would move forward as a part of Europe; freedom, which would lead to a strong society wherein differences were tolerated and people were free to express their opinions; and responsibility, not just in terms of the civic education of voters, but also that of the officials they elect.
The former Chancellor of Justice also pointed out that in the past 24 years during which Estonia’s current Constitution has been in effect, only two referendums have ever been held; he stated that if elected president, he would like to see more laws decided upon by referendum, thus more actively involving voters in the political process. “Voters today are given too little background on policy decisions,” he noted.
Jõks noted that an exception should be made for such issues as the Civil Partnership Act and the accepting of refugees, citing that questions concerning whether or not to protect minority interests should not be decided by referendum, however he offered the current administrative reform and the employment contract law from a few years ago as examples of issues that he felt should have been put to a referendum instead of being voted upon by the Riigikogu.
Support within the Riigikogu as well?
Jõks could not yet comment on if and which political parties supported him, noting that as far as he knew, not one political party had yet officially endorsed any potential candidate, however he noted that while further potential meetings had yet to be scheduled, he planned to meet and speak with the Free Party on Saturday, May 28th.
He did believe, however, that he had enough sympathizers in the Riigikogu’s various parliamentary groups to guarantee his election there already rather than in the electoral college.
To become a presidential candidate, Jõks would need political support, as candidates need to be nominated by at least 21 members of the Riigikogu.
The President of Estonia is elected by the Riigikogu for a five-year term. If no candidate reaches a supermajority of two thirds of the Riigikogu’s votes in three balloting rounds, the election is postponed, and a special electoral college convenes. The electoral college is made up of the Riigikogu’s members as well as representatives of Estonia’s local governments.
Editor: Editors: Dario Cavegn, Aili Sarapik