Isamaa leader: No fear about EKRE ahead of local elections

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Isamaa leader Helir-Valdor Seeder was returned for a second term on Sunday, and will lead the party into the October local elections. Source: ERR

Isamaa need not fear failing to win seats at October's local elections, neither should it worry about the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) making inroads into its voter base, Helir-Valdor Seeder, returned as party leader for a second term Sunday, told ETV news show 'Aktuaalne kaamera'.

Seeder did not comment directly on leadership challenger Lavly Perling, a former prosecutor general, picking up third of delegates' 1,169 votes at the outdoor board meeting held in Tartu's song festival grounds.

Seeder said that he: "Doesn't evaluate votes given to the competitor or the board in any way, in retrospect. The numbers are as they are," adding that dividing the party into two-thirds and one-third was wrong, given that there were two candidates in a democratic ballot and that party members voting had to pick one or the other.

He also said that competition from the right was no more, nor less, of a threat than that from the left – the latter a group which Perling broadly represented, notwithstanding the literal translation of the Isamaa faction's name being "Right-wingers."

Similarly, he said that EKRE, which had been in office with Isamaa April 2019-January 2021, would not eat into Isamaa's voter base to the extent of pushing the party below the 5-percent threshold needed to obtain seats at any election.

"Isamaa has always exceeded the threshold and always does significantly better than forecast by the press and the media, and this will certainly continue to be the case in the future," he went on.

The party has regularly only polled a little over the 5-percent-mark in recent weeks, according to the three major market research firms operating in the sphere in Estonia.

"Within the conservative wing, competition is no stronger than in the Liberal wing. If we are clearer in our messages, we will also be stronger and the election results will be good. We are not afraid of EKRE or anyone," Seeder, 56, added.

Staying on for another term as party leader, a position he gained in 2017, was a great responsibility, Seeder told AK, and one which should involve all party members.

He declined to be drawn on the party's mayoral candidate for the capital in this October's local elections, be it Lavly Perling, or anyone else, however.

"We will discuss Tallinn's mayoral candidate in the future, according to party statutes. In line with current practice and tradition, each region decides its candidate independently, meaning Tallinn also decides independently," he added.

Former population affairs minister Riina Solman's name has also been recently mentioned in connection with running for Tallinn mayor, though she herself says she is still weighing up the matter.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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