SDE chair: We don't rule out voting for Ratas as next Riigikogu speaker
Opposition Social Democratic Party (SDE) say they may support former prime minister Jüri Ratas (Center) at Thursday's vote on the next Riigikogu speaker and deputy speakers.
The party's leader, Indrek Saar, said: "Juri Ratas is the coalition's candidate for the post of the chairman of the Riigikogu. We do not rule out supporting him in the March 18 election, but before making a decision we want to learn about his vision as regards several matters."
Saar also praised Ratas' work when he was Riigikogu deputy speaker, 2015-2016.
Some or all of the party's MPs, who number 10 at the 101-seat Riigikogu, say they want to meet Ratas, who resigned as prime minister in mid-January following a scandal over a real estate project which was linked to the Center Party, next week, ahead of Thursday's ballot.
The term of office for the current Riigikogu board – consisting of speaker Henn Põlluaas (EKRE) and his two deputies, Siim Kallas (Reform) and Helir-Valdor Seeder (Isamaa) – is due to end next week, hence the vote on its replacement.
The role of speaker – properly speaking President of the Riigikogu – in particular is seen as one of the most important in the land, arguably second only to the head of state, i.e. the President of the Republic, due in part to its positioning over parliamentary business.
Government ministers do not sit at the Riigikogu, but regularly appear their for questioning and other matters.
Saar's deputy Lauri Läänemets said recently that the party opposes Martin Helme (EKRE) as candidate for one of two deputy speaker posts, to be voted on on Thursday as well, even though Läänemets said the party supported the principle – that the largest opposition party (currently EKRE) provides one of the two deputy speakers – which led to Helme being put up as candidate.
SDE has been in opposition since April 2019. The party had previously been in a coalition with Center, with Ratas as prime minister, and Isamaa, from November 2016 until that date.
Indrek Saar also said the question should be resolved as soon as possible, given the current pandemic.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte