Tarmo Soomere out of running as next president
Tarmo Soomere is out of the running as a presidential candidate at the elections starting at the end of this month, Riigikogu speaker Jüri Ratas (Center) says, since he would not meet the required number of votes from members of parliament in order to get elected.
Ratas, who as speaker oversees Riigikogu business, wrote on his social media account Friday morning that: "We recognize that the President of the Estonian Academy of Sciences Tarmo Soomere will not receive sufficient support to enable his election as next President, at the Riigikogu on August 30."
Ratas told ERR Friday morning that: "All four parties -Isamaa, the Social Democrats, the Reform Party and the Center Party – have met with Tarmo Soomere, and as of now the situation is clear that we will not get broad enough support across the Riigikogu, the coalition and the opposition so as to get 68 MPs to vote for him at the election as [president]."
Soomere's name first appeared in connection with a presidential bid back in March, but remained somewhat of an outsider until early last week CHECK, when he met with Reform and Center together, followed by Ismaa and SDE.
While no party had openly said they would back him, Soomere did not even get to the stage of a vote on his candidacy, which requires 21 MPs or more.
The opposition Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) never met with Soomere and is going it alone with former speaker Henn Põlluaas as candidate. While Põlluaas has been touring Estonia, ostensibly on a campaign drive – the local elections also take place in October – EKRE would need at least two MPs from other parties to reach the 21 votes required for him to run, and 39 MPs to join them in voting him in as head of state.
Ratas declined to say which parties had backed Soomere and which had not, adding that key is whether he could fetch 68 or more votes, which he could not.
Making this clear to Soomere and others was the best thing to do, Ratas added, before expressing his gratitude to the 63-year-old for even considering a bid and being prepared to run.
Soomere himself, who appeared on ERR's "Otse uudistemajast" webcast Thursday, told ERR that the issue was one for the MPs and that he had no further comment.
Jüri Ratas said that the four parties have now agreed to continue trying to find a candidate amenable to them, and will meet Monday to start afresh.
Ratas added that the desire was still to get the president elected at the Riigikogu and not have the process drag on into the electoral colleges in the provinces, a desire which he has consistently expressed.
Current incumbent Kersti Kaljulaid is eligible for a second consecutive term, and has in recent weeks referred in statements to her current position as her "first term as president", but has not formally or publicly declared herself in or out.
Follow ERR News on Facebook and Twitter and never miss an update!
Editor: Andrew Whyte