Helir-Valdor Seeder has been returned as leader of the opposition Isamaa party by a comfortable margin, seeing off a challenge from former prosecutor general Lavly Perling. At an in-person meeting in over-thirty-degree-heat in Tartu, the session took longer than expected, due to a reading error relating to one ballot vote, while the final results were out around seven in the evening.
Seeder picked up 784 votes to 367 for Perling, who more recently emerged as leader of an internal faction named the Parempoolsed, in English the "Right-wingers", somewhat misleadingly since the group was made up mainly of people from the more socially liberal side of the party.
The board meeting, at the Tartu Song Festival Grounds (see gallery below), also saw the party's board, audit committee and court of honor elected.
1,169 electoral mandates were distributed, with Seeder saying in his pre-ballot speech that the party was ready for discussions on specific issues, but not with those for whom the party's main issues and values did not coincide, likely an oblique reference to the Parempoolsed challenge.
Seeder said: "The formation of a worthless project-party, political-technological simulation, plus the sampling of fashionable trends, will not bring long-term success."
"What brought us to this point will not take us forward. We will certainly continue to be more united, and we will certainly take them into account in all the changes that take place in society. the worldview is evolving in exactly the same way. From tomorrow, I hope that all members will accept the mandate given to today's leaders," Seeder went on.
The Parempoolsed members had wanted an e-voting option, ERR reports, but this was not permitted. An error in reading one vote cast held up proceedings until about seven in the evening, by which time most delegates had left.
Temperatures in Tartu were around 33C, highest in the country at a time when authorities have issued major fire-risk warnings nationwide.
For her part, Lavly Perling expressed a hope that some change in the party policy will be on the horizon, and that those who had emerged from the Parempoolsed ranks would have something to offer both the party and society as a whole.
Isamaa has been polling only a little over the benchmark 5 percent required to pick up seats under Estonia's modified d'Hondt system of proportional representation, and ahead of October's local elections.
The party's presidential board was returned also, with former culture minister Tõnis Lukas, former foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu, former population affairs minister Riina Solman, former finance minister Sven Sester, Riigikogu group leader Priit Sibul, MPs Viktoria Ladõnskaja-Kubits, Aivar Kokk and Tarmo Kruusimäe, and former foreign ministry adviser Mart Luik, among others, elected to the positions.
Those who did not pick up seats on the party presidential board included fomer ministers Raivo Aeg and Marko Pomerants.
Nine members were elected to the court of honor, and five to the audit committee.
The party also adopted amendments to its statutes.
Editor: Andrew Whyte