Search for presidential candidate to continue Monday evening

Kadriorg, seat of the President of the Republic of Estonia, in Kadriorg, Tallinn.
Kadriorg, seat of the President of the Republic of Estonia, in Kadriorg, Tallinn. Source: President's office.

The chairs of four of the five the parliamentary parties will continue the debate on the presidential candidate on Monday evening. No joint candidate was agreed on at the weekend.

Last week, an attempt to nominate Tarmo Soomere, President of the Academy of Sciences, as a presidential candidate failed. The Reform Party and the Center Party refused to comment on what point they had reached over the weekend, ahead of Monday's meeting.

However, the time to find a common candidate who could be elected at the Riigikogu on August 30 is ticking. The leaders of the opposition parties, Isamaa and the Social Democrats (SDE) also say they have not yet been spoken to.

"There has been time to think, but there have been no negotiations. We won't come out with any candidate. We continue to want any candidate we are going to discuss at all to have a wider footing than the support of one party. It is very difficult to find a candidate who could get 68 votes in the Riigikogu," Helir-Valdor Seeder, the chairman of Isamaa said.

Sixty-eight votes is the minimum required to get elected as president at the 101-seat Riigikogu, while 21 votes are needed to run at all. The Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) is not joining the other four parties in any joint presidential candidate negotiations, but is putting forward former speaker Henn Põlluaas as its own candidate.

The two coalition parties, Reform and Center, have 59 seats between them, meaning they have to find support from at least nine opposition MPs to get a candidate elected as head of state, even assuming all their MPs vote the same way.

The opposition parties as a whole say that the talks on the presidential candidate have been general in nature

SDE leader Indrek Saar noted that no agreement had been reached on a common candidate.

"Unfortunately, we have to say that we are a few dozen hours closer to August 30, when the Riigikogu should gather to elect the president, but it seems that we are not significantly closer to finding a common candidate. I hope the coalition will do some work towards that," Saar said.

If the Riigkogu ballot rounds fail to produce a candidate, the elections pass to the regional electoral colleges - a scenario Jüri Ratas (Center), who as speaker oversees Riigikogu business - has consistently said he wants to avoid.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino, Andrew Whyte

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