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Samost ja Sildam: Pres. election dragging on risk for local elections

Anvar Samost (left) and Toomas Sildam, on an earlier Vikerraadio broadcast..
Anvar Samost (left) and Toomas Sildam, on an earlier Vikerraadio broadcast.. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

President of the Estonian Academy of Sciences Tarmo Soomere being elected president no longer comes off impossible as the presidential election dragging out would become a hindrance for local elections, journalists Anvar Samost and Toomas Sildam found on their Vikerraadio talk show.

"The closing week brought news that Center Party leader, President of the Riigikogu Jüri Ratas and Reform Party chairman, PM Kaja Kallas have approached the heads of parliamentary parties with the proposal of setting up the candidacy of President of the Estonian Academy of Science Tarmo Soomere who remains one of only a few people to have agreed to run for president," Sildam said.

The opposition Conservative People's Party (EKRE) candidate Henn Põlluaas and independent Kaimar Karu have also signaled willingness to run.

While Soomere first expressed willingness to run for president back in spring, parties have not considered him a serious option until now. "The process was not lent credibility by a Saku Municipality election coalition voicing its support for Soomere," Sildam noted.

Samost believes that the likelihood of Soomere becoming president is less than 50 percent, while Sildam believes the odds are even.

Sildam said Jüri Ratas' statement according to which he does not wish to run for president in the Electoral College can be considered sincere. "I'm sure Ratas understands that allowing himself to be set up in the Electoral College after all he has said and done regarding his participation would be the government's swan song. Why would the Reform Party back Ratas in this situation?" he asked.

It is also likely that the Center Party is not interested in reanimating its former coalition with EKRE and Isamaa should the government collapse.

Sildam said that Center will likely back Soomere and Kaja Kallas might also be tempted to portray the presidential election as a success. "Even though I gather the Reform Party has more than a few skeptics. Others in the ranks of Isamaa and the Social Democratic Party (SDE) might be tempted to ask about Soomere's foreign and security policy credentials in what is an increasingly turbulent world," he remarked.

Anvar Samost said that a presidential candidate should have at least some experience in those fields.

Tarmo Soomere is set to meet with the MPs of three parties next week. "Some have suggested that should Soomere manage to avoid major mistakes when answering MPs' questions, neither SDE nor Isamaa want to go down as the wrench in the works," Sildam said.

Samost added that local elections context must not be overlooked. "SDE, Isamaa, very likely also Reform and Center, unlike EKRE, have another consideration we have not yet mentioned – local government council elections are just two and half months away. Parties are putting the finishing touches on candidate lists and campaigns, and I imagine no one wants the presidential election plowing into the locals," he said.

"The presidential election being dragged out would mean voters' weariness manifesting in their opinion of the parties in power and in parliament, which is something no one wants," Sildam said.

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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