SDE chairman calls on parties to jointly find presidential candidate

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Flag of the President of the Republic of Estonia. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Social Democratic Party (SDE) Chairman Indrek Saar has appealed to party leaders to find a joint candidate for the Riigikogu to elect at the upcoming presidential election in August.

Saar wrote a letter to Chairman of the Reform Party Kaja Kallas, the leader of the Center Party Jüri Ratas and the Chairman of Isamaa Helir-Valdor Seeder calling for discussions to start.

He suggested the search for a common candidate could be started by commissioning a survey to see who is popular with the public. Saar said the opinion of the people would have been taken into account when the Riigikogu is electing the president.

Estonia's president is elected every five years and this election is unusual because few candidates have put themselves forward for the position. The Riigikogu elects the president and must support and put forward candidates for the role. Cross-party support is needed to gain a majority of 2/3 - 68 of 101 votes - so parties must agree on a candidate to support. Last time, parties were unable to agree on a candidate to support.

On Wednesday, Kallas told ERR a good candidate has been found but the candidate still needs to be convinced to run for the role. Ratas, would not confirm any details on Thursday but said a candidate should have cross-party support.

Seeder told ERR on Monday that the last time party chairmen discussed presidential candidates was before Midsummer's Day. The party is not planning to nominate its own candidate.

The largest opposition party EKRE has nominated Henn Põlluaas, leader of the EKRE Riigikogu faction, as its candidate for the role of president. However, 21 members must support Põlluaas' bid and the party only has 19 members sitting in the Riigikogu.

Ratas, who is president of the Riigikogu, has convened an extraordinary session of the Riigikogu on August 1 at 1 p.m., and the election of the president is on the agenda. 

Current President Kersti Kaljulaid could run for a second term as president but it has long been thought she will not receive enough support from the Riigikogu to be reelected.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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