This autumn's local elections could potentially see the Center Party in a coalition, rather than ruling as a single party as it currently does, the party's own Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart says, amid falling support for the party, which he puts down mainly to its actions on the national stage.
Kõlvart told ERR Thursday afternoon that: "The option for this always exists. If [local] elections took place tomorrow, that (i.e. a coalition - ed] would arise."
The mayor noted that Center's political opponents wish to create a Tallinn coalition, ideally without Center, a development not hindered by a reported falling support for Center among the capital's large Russian-speaking population, one of its bedrock demographics, after entering office with Reform at the national level.
Mayor: Support for Center also falling after national entering office with Reform
Kõlvart also said that while it would be nice to think that Tallinn residents evaluated the party's performance on the basis of its actions in Tallinn, in reality, that evaluation is based mainly on what happens on Toompea with the national government.
A recent continued decline in support for Center has been blamed on the party entering office with the Reform Party at the national level; many Russian-speaking voters have not forgiven the party over the 2007 relocation of a bronze statue commemorating World War Two, from one area of Tallinn to another, it is surmised.
Current Reform MEP Andrus Ansip was prime minister at the time.
Kõlvart: Center's Russian-speaking voters need continual reassuring
Mihhail Kõlvart said that nonetheless Center's support rating had not been affected by losing the prime minister spot to Reform's Kaja Kallas, though Reform's perception as a more socially liberal party, twinned with its lack of clear messages on Russian-language education and Estonian citizenship for those Russian speakers who do not have it, likely contributed to a cooling in enthusiasm for Center, he said.
Center voters are somewhat conservative and thus trying to obtain political and "emotional" stability in society was required to keep them happy, Kõlvart said; the process of a leaching of support had already begun when the party entered national office in coalition with the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) in April 2019.
A recent survey saw support for Center among voters of "other nationalities" reach a record low of 43 percent. In the past that support had been almost double that figure at times.
Mayor: We need apolitical city-level authorities and firms
Kõlvart also told ERR that the decision of opposition councilor Rainer Vakra (SDE) to leave politics and his party was personal, and was not a move on the part of Center to silence a popular political opponent – one who had polled over 3,000 votes at previous local elections and won a seat in his own right, as opposed to redistributed votes under Estonia's modified d'Hondt system, which sees many candidates with fairly desultory numbers of votes the their name nonetheless become councilors (or MPs).
Vakra is going to work on the board of a Tallinn-based heating company from next week.
Kõlvart also called for non-politicos and non-political party members to take leadership roles in firms like Tallinna Soojus AS – the abbreviation AS often, but not always, denotes fully private sector firms - as well as in city authorities.
Editor: Andrew Whyte