Center culture minister candidate Toome is still Isamaa member

Singer Koit Toome, who rejected a Center Party proposal to take up the position of culture minister in the Reform/Center coalition sworn-in last month, is still a member of the Isamaa Party.

Online portal Delfi wrote (link in Estonian) on Wednesday that when Kaja Kallas' coalition was being formed, Tanel Kiik (Center) contaced Toome, who has represented Estonia twice at the Eurovision Song Contest, offering him the culture minister position.

"We took a conscious approach with the party to think outside the box," Kiik explained. Koit Toome pondered the offer and discussed it with his family, but rejected it in the end.

What Kiik and the Center Party didn't know, ERR reports, is that Toome is still officially a member of the Isamaa Party, now in opposition. According to the commercial register, Koit Toome joined Res Publica (one of Isamaa's two forerunner parties) back in 2003.

Res Publica merged with Pro Patria in 2006, to become IRL, rebranded to Isamaa in 2018. Toome is still a member of the party through all the changes, albeit not an active on.

Toome has not run as a candidate - a common occurence among singers and others from the world of arts, as well as sportspeople, regardless of any actual political acumen they may or may not have - at any elections. The Political Party Funding Surveillance Committee (ERJK), the body responsible for monitoring party finances, said that Toome also hasn't made any donations to the party since 2013, nor has he paid his membership fee.

Anneli Ott (Center) ultimately became the minister of culture in the new administration.

Popular figures are often attractive to parties in the run up to elections, where they can serve to run as "flagship" candidates, attracting votes and then, due to the workings of the d'Hondt system of proportional representation used in Estonia, seeing excess votes distributed to candidates lower on the list, who would have been unlikely to get a seat in their own right.

Political leaders can also serve the same function, since if they get appointed ministers, they must then vacate their Riigikogu seat, which is then allocated to the next candidate on the list.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino, Andrew Whyte

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