Nestor: Karis does not have enough votes yet, Kaljulaid could continue

President of the Riigikogu Eiki Nestor (SDE).
President of the Riigikogu Eiki Nestor (SDE). Source: Sergei Stepanov/ERR

Although Reform Party and Center Party have begun to support Estonian National Museum director and former University of Tartu rector Alar Karis as the next president of Estonia, his election is not yet ensured, Social Democratic Party member and former Riigikogu speaker Eiki Nestor told ERR.

"I will answer briefly - Alar Karis does not have enough votes yet. Kersti Kaljulaid could become president again," Nestor said on Vikerraadio's news show "Uudis+".

Commenting on a statement recently made by Center's Riigikogu group chair Jaanus Karilaid, in which the Center politician said it would be statesmanlike of opposition parties Social Democratic Party and Isamaa to also support Karis, Nestor said he is not a big fan of Karilaid's political actions.

"There are better politicians in Center than him. It would have been statesmanlike to look for a common candidate together. But now, the opposition is presented with a choice of either supporting Karis or not. To measure statesmanship off that... It's stupidity," Nestor said.

He added that there are no substantive differences between Karis and Tarmo Soomere, both candidates publicly supported by Reform and Center. "They both have their pros and cons. It is more a question of time. Had Karis' name been presented earlier, we would not be talking about Soomere now," Nestor noted.

The former Riigikogu speaker said that while Isamaa and SDE met with Karis on Monday, it is likely that the new president's name will not be announced before next Monday.

"The best case is that it will become clear on at 1 p.m. August 30, when the Riigikogu will convene to elect a president. But all 101 Riigikogu members have authority given to them by the people and they also have their own opinions. You cannot just add up the numbers here," Nestor said.

He noted that Reform and Center might not be too certain that their candidates will receive the necessary Riigikogu support, either. Nestor said he would not be surprised if an electoral college must be organized. That is when Kaljulaid's chances of continuing would get stronger.

"Her (Kersti Kaljulaid's - ed) presentation in the Riigikogu election rounds would have been reasonable, but we were not behind that. Reform did say at the start that they would be prepared to support her, but that thought has changed by now and Kersti Kaljulaid can only be presented to the electoral college," Nestor noted.

Why Reform might have been supportive of Kaljulaid's candidacy while they were in opposition, but not when they were in government, Nestor said that you can state your positions more clearly while in opposition, but you must consider your partners while in coalition.

"The explanation behind the changed statements from Kaja Kallas is simple, she is more true to maintaining the coalition than the principles that Reform would like to follow in their hearts," the veteran politician said.

Nestor said that since Kersti Kaljulaid had participated in politics prior to her candidacy and subsequent election in 2016, she was more known than Tarmo Soomere or Alar Karis. If she does not continue in her presidential role, Nestor can see her entering domestic politics.

"[She] is a good and smart person. And in suitable age. She has enough time to do politics. You should not fear this (entering politics ed), but rather be hopeful. But the question is how ready she is to do it," Nestor noted.

Kaljulaid had worked at the European Court of Auditors and was picked by the Riigikogu's council of elders in 2016 to run as a candidate. The council was headed by Nestor, who at the time was Riigikogu speaker, Nestor's two deputy speakers and chairmen of the six Riigikogu parties. Kaljulaid eventually received votes from 81 MPs.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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