SDE MPs given free vote on Alar Karis at Monday's presidential ballot
The opposition Social Democratic Party (SDE) will join Isamaa in allowing its 11 MPs to vote as they wish at next Monday's Riigikogu presidential elections first round ballot, and has not agreed to pledge support for the coalition parties' candidate Alar Karis.
While the two coalition partners, Reform and Center, have pledged support for Karis, director of the Estonian National Museum (ERM), SDE leader Indrek Saar said: "We do not have a consensus on supporting him."
"Everyone will vote according to the opinions they have formed at meetings with Alar Karis," Saar added.
This means that the two coalition parties have no guarantee they will reach the 68 votes needed to elect Karis head of state on Monday. Isamaa made a similar announcement on Wednesday afternoon that its 12 MPs have a free vote.
Saar declined to say if he personally would vote for Karis. SDE met with Karis earlier this week.
Saar has said his party would support Kersti Kaljulaid for a second term, if other parties joined them. In any case with 11 seats, SDE would need another 57 MPs to join them in supporting the current incumbent.
Reform and Center together have 59 seats at the 101-seat Riigikogu, meaning they need nine more votes from the other parties for Karis to get elected.
The other opposition party, the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) has put up former Riigikogu speaker Henn Põlluaas as its official candidate.
The official nominations for Monday's vote are made on Sunday evening. The ballot itself starts at 1 p.m. Monday.
If Monday's voting draws a blank, two more ballots are held Tuesday morning and afternoon. If these fail, the process continues next month with the regional electoral colleges, a situation Riigikogu speaker and Center's leader Jüri Ratas said he wanted to avoid.
Alar Karis, 63, has been ERM director since 2018 and is a former auditor general and Unversity of Tartu rector.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte