Parties agree presidential election system needs changes

Estonian politicians taking part in a previous edition of Arvamusfestival.
Estonian politicians taking part in a previous edition of Arvamusfestival. Source: Olev Kenk/ERR

Representatives of five parties on Saturday discussed ways of finding a good president for Estonia at the Opinion Festival in Paide. While no one candidate was agreed on, party representatives said that the presidential election system needs changing.

Just as the party chairmen debate had on Friday, the Saturday political debate echoed a few names deemed worthy of the office of president, while no common candidate was found. Politicians for whom support was voiced included Urmas Paet, Kaimar Karu, Tarmo Soomere, Toomas Kiho, Kaido Kama and incumbent Kersti Kaljulaid, "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported.

Secretary-General of the Reform Party Erkki Keldo said that the question goes beyond finding a suitable person and right to them having 68 votes in the parliament.

The Riigikogu is set to hold the first round of presidential election voting in just 16 days, while no common political candidate for president has been found, head of the non-parliamentary Eesti 200 party Kristina Kallas said in terms of what is bothering people in Estonia.

"On the one hand, we have major political egoism or certain politicians' egoism, their own personal ambitions and plans they have not revealed and that are standing in the way of an agreement. And on the other, there is confusion at the top in terms of who is responsible for the process and how it should play out. How to invite people to run, how to eliminate candidates – there are no agreements to that effect as far as I have gathered from this debate," Kallas said.

MEP Sven Mikser (Social Democratic Party) said that the search for the presidential candidate started too late and lacked initiative. "On the prime minister's part mainly. And this has led to the current situation where no common ground exists a few weeks before the first round of voting. This is something to take away [from this election]," Mikser said.

Deputy head of the Isamaa party Urmas Reinsalu said that the presidential election system needs to be changed. "Where candidates would be set up sooner, where we'd have clear candidates who want to be elected president and no last minute additions. I also believe it would be sensible to hold the election in a single body, instead of bouncing it around from the Riigikogu to the Electoral College and back again."

Riigikogu Center Party whip Jaanus Karilaid said that the Center Party prefers direct presidential elections.

"We are willing to also consider the compromise of moving the election to the Electoral College as it stands closer to the voter than the Riigikogu," he said.

Erkki Keldo refused to give ERR an interview despite having previously agreed to do so.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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