Center collects enough signatures to nominate Karis as candidate

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Jaanus Karilaid and Jüri Ratas with 25 signatures of support from Center Party members. Source: Andres Kalvik

Twenty-five members of the Center Party have agreed to support Estonian National Museum director Alar Karis as a presidential candidate, the party confirmed on Wednesday. Karis needed 21 to be nominated.

The Reform and Center parties have started to collect signatures from Riigikogu members for Karis' nomination as registration opens on August 26.

Photographs of the Center Party's collected signatures were released to the media on Wednesday afternoon. Chairman of the party's Riigikogu faction Jaanus Karilaid said all 25 members had given their support. Party chairman and former Prime Minister Jüri Ratas was the first to sign.

The signatures, which will total 59 between the two parties, will be handed to the election committee on Friday.

Fifteen of the 25 signatures of support for Alar Karis from the Center Party. Source: Andres Kalvik

In total, 68 votes are needed to elect a president and the first round of voting will take place on Monday, August 30. If a candidate receives 68 votes, it will be the only round of voting to take place.

The Reform and Center parties have 59 votes between them and so need support from the Isamaa or Social Democratic Party (SDE) to elect Karis. So far, it has not been confirmed either party will support him.

"We rely on the statesmanlike spirit of Isamaa and the Social Democrats," Karilaid said. 

Isamaa will decide whether or not to support Karis on Wednesday and SDE on Thursday morning.

Neither, Isamaa nor the SDE were involved with Center and Reforms discussions about who to support and both have complained about being left out of the process. At the moment, there are no other candidates except Karis.

EKRE will support former Riigikogu speaker Henn Põullaas but it is thought he will not receive 21 signatures to be nominated. EKRE only has 19 members of the Riigikogu.

Candidates who receive 21 signatures can be nominated until Saturday and a list of candidates will be announced on Sunday. The voting will start at 1 p.m. on Monday in the Riigikogu.

ERR News' guide to the presidential election can be read here.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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