Riigikogu party heads have begun discussing presidential candidate

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Stenbock House, seat of the Estonian government. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The parties represented in the Riigikogu have initiated unofficial discussions on the party head level to find a suitable presidential candidate. No names have been unveiled yet.

Center Party board member and Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab told ETV's daily affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" that the parliamentary parties want to find a suitable presidential candidate in the Riigikogu. For a president to be elected from the Riigikogu, they must collect 68 votes of the 101 seats.

Unofficial consultations to find such a candidate are ongoing. "As much as I know, these discussions have been had among chairmen of all Riigikogu parties, I think. And they will certainly continue," Aab said.

Reform Party board member Kristen Michal said: "I think it is still too soon to speak about candidates. The parties have to talk with each other. And the best discussions and procedural actions take place not in front of cameras, but rather eye to eye."

Former Riigikogu speaker and board member of the Social Democratic Party Eiki Nestor said that for a candidate to be elected by the Riigikogu, the parliament must first agree on principles on how to find a common candidate and not to limit the search to just one name.

"Parties and Riigikogu political groups should point out more names, then there is more certainty that a common one would be found," Nestor said.

"On the other hand, I think those who have not flashed any names have acted most reasonable. Guess they are most willing to find a common candidate," he added.

Center Party chairman and previous prime minister Jüri Ratas might still be the most important name in discussions. Jaak Aab said the current Riigikogu speaker's campaign is still completely open.

Michal did not want to predict if all Reform MPs would be prepared to support Ratas in his candidacy. "Currently, he and Center have given out this message that they understand that there are not 68 approvals in parliament, which means that they have also begun looking for other candidates. Time will tell if they will look for candidates until the electoral body and then Jüri Ratas will run," Michal said.

Presidential elections will take place in August and September. If the president is not elected in the Riigikogu, an electoral body will be convened. While no candidates have been named, current president Kersti Kaljulaid has said she would "never say 'no' to her country". President of the Estonian Academy of Sciences Tarmo Soomere has publicly thrown his name in the ring, but Jüri Ratas continues to be the biggest shoe to drop before August.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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