EKRE elects Mart Helme, Henn Põlluaas and Jaak Madison as deputy chairmen
The Conservative People's Party of Estonia's (EKRE) congress on Sunday elected Martin Helme to continue as party chairman and Mart Helme, Henn Põlluaas and Jaak Madison as deputy party chairmen.
Martin Helme, the only candidate for party chairman, receiver 429 votes of the 443-person congress delegation.
Mart Helme received 339 votes for deputy chairman, Henn Põlluaas received 264 votes and MEP Jaak Madison received 248 votes. Helme and Põlluaas were already deputy chairmen, the third board member, Siim Pohlak, did not run. In addition, Kert Kingo, Alar Laneman and Anti Poolamets also ran for the positions.
The congress also elected 11 party board members, 15 council members, a revision committee and a court of honor.
Mery Aart, Arvo Aller, Kalle Grünthal, Helle-Moonika Helme, Mart Järvik, Kert Kingo, Rene Kokk, Siim Pohlak, Anti Poolamets, Urmas Reitelmann and Jaak Valge were picked to serve on the EKRE board.
Põlluaas confirmed as party's presidential candidate
The EKRE congress confirmed former speaker of the Riigikogu Henn Põlluaas as the party's presidential candidate in elections in August.
Põlluaas said in his speech that Estonia needs a president who has the Estonian state, its people and the blue-black-white flag embedded in their heart.
"We require a president who faces the people. Someone who does not divide, but tries to reduce tensions in society and tries to gather different opinions behind one table to find a common part. For us to keep moving forward," the candidate said.
Põlluaas criticized in his speech the government's decision to decrease defense spending in a worsening security situation, adding that it is the president's duty to react to factors that are endangering to Estonia's security and defense capabilities.
He said there is no need to sign a new Estonian-Russian border agreement, because according to international law, the Tartu Peace Treaty signed 101 years ago still stands today, along with the state border determined by it. "There is absolutely no need or reason to legalize the criminal occupation in Petseri County and the areas behind Narva," the candidate spoke.
Põlluaas said one of the greatest challenges for Estonia is its low birth rate and added that population decline cannot and must not be replaced with immigration.
He called Estonia to drop its current liberal immigration policy.
"Over the last years, immigration to Estonia has been about as great as during the occupation. Last year, over 16,000 migrants arrived, regardless of coronavirus restrictions. The share of the Estonian language and people. Data from the Police and Border Guard Board shows that the number of residence permit applicants can rise above 30,000 this year. Cheap foreign labour traps us in poverty, leaves our people without work and increases emigration," Põlluaas noted.
"If we wish to survive, we must ensure that only highly specialized and necessary foreign workforce comes here to support the economy's reorganization and technological development, the employment, vocational training and retraining of our own people," the candidate added.
Põlluaas added that the people should have greater power when it comes to decision-making. "It is too little to come to election boxes every four years. The people should again have the right to initiate referendums on both the state and local government level. They have that right. The president is elected by the people in more than half of EU countries, such as our neighbors in Finland and Latvia. There are no arguments for why that should not be the case in Estonia. If I was elected president, I plan to present to the Riigikogu a bill for direct elections," he said.
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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste