If the heads of the Reform Party and Center Party can sell running for president to someone who can be sure that what will follow will not be a shadow play, double agenda or a hustle, they will eventually agree, journalist Toomas Sildam writes.
Heads of the ruling parties currently have nothing in terms of the next presidential candidate. The parliament is set to elect the next head of state 49 (40 – ed.) days from now, while a candidate with support from the coalition hasn't been found.
Ratas and Kallas have promised to find the candidate personally and have so far only been turned down by several people. The reason is the presidential election from five years ago where both the Riigikogu and the Electoral College failed on their first attempt, with the election moving back to the parliament and the parties deciding to save face by supporting then Riigikogu President Eiki Nestor's surprise candidate Kersti Kaljulaid.
However, Marina Kaljurand, Siim Kallas, Mailis Reps and Allar Jõks spent months going through the mandatory elements of a presidential campaign – interviews, debates, meetings etc. It was utterly in vain for all of them as there was no sensible agreement between parties.
Who wants to wear the loser's brand?
This makes the task of Kallas and Ratas twofold, provided they want to get the next president elected in the Riigikogu. Firstly, to find a candidate who would make a good president for Estonia. Secondly, to have them believe they have the support of Reform and Center MPs, as well as either Isamaa or the Social Democrats as at least 68 votes are needed to elect the president in the Riigikogu.
The same calculation applies should the election move to the Electoral College where members of parliament will be joined by a similar number of local government electors.
It is possible that finding a realistic candidate and having them say "yes" requires greater trust between Kallas and Ratas than what the public has been shown. What people can see instead is tension and shoving. That said, neither chairman wants to fail as they remember how the slipshod presidential election from five years ago became one of the nails in the government's coffin.
We know that Kallas and Ratas are looking for a candidate who is well-known, understands the workings of the state and politics, is capable of representing Estonia on the international arena and doesn't come off as divisive.
They will agree eventually, upon realizing the game is above board and the intentions of party chairmen sincere this time around. But only when they can be sure that what is going on is not a shadow play, double agenda or hustle but the sincere desire of everyone involved to find the best possible president for Estonia.
Editor: Marcus Turovski