'Samost ja Luts': Ratas could be good presidential fit also for opposition

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Anvar Samost (left) and Janek Luts. Source: ERR

Electing Center Party leader Jüri Ratas Estonia's next president could sit well also with the opposition, journalists Anvar Samost and Janek Luts found in their Sunday talk show.

"As far as I've gathered, were Jüri Ratas and Center to tell their coalition partner Reform that Ratas is prepared to run for president and go public provided he can count on the required 69 votes, none of the three smallest factions – Social Democrats, Isamaa and Conservative People's Party – would unanimously back him. However, it could just happen that they will allow their members to vote freely in which case Ratas might just get the 69 votes required to be elected president in the Riigikogu," Samost said.

Luts agreed, saying that because the ballot is secret, no one would know who supported Ratas.

"Of course, one could argue that EKRE have no reason to support Ratas. But on the other hand, the weaker Center is going into local and Riigikogu elections, because they will develop a serious power vacuum, the better for EKRE, a political technologist could reason," Luts said.

"And not only EKRE," Samost added. He explained that the Reform Party that knows it cannot provide the next president, needs to decide which other candidate to back.

Samost offered that Reform could also be interested in leaving Center without a strong leader before local elections [were Ratas elected president]. The host pointed to recent polls according to which Center has lost much of the 60 percent support rating it once enjoyed in Ida-Viru County and has even fallen behind Reform according to some surveys.

The topic of presidential elections was raised when President of the Estonian Academy of Sciences Tarmo Soomere said this week that he would be interested in running.

"Soomere was the first person sporting a high public profile to say he would be willing to run in the August election. No one else has made their intent to run so clear," Samost noted. He added that while a number of candidates are usually known by April, this has not been the case so far this year. "At the same time, it seems to me that the moral blow to politicians in 2016 [when presidential elections moved from the Riigikogu to the Electoral College and back again] was so devastating that people are being extra careful this time. Some politicians have been asked but have remained incredibly cryptic. Perhaps the most important such politician has been Center leader and Riigikogu speaker Jüri Ratas," Samost said.

The hosts also talked about the spread of coronavirus and vaccination, as well as Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik's initiative to tax business revenue to keep the healthcare system going. Samost and Luts also lingered on the government's recent habit of using social media to inform the public rather than relying on official government channels.

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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