Nearly 50 former army officers have issued a statement in support of former Riigikogu speaker Henn Põlluaas (EKRE) as president. Põlluaas is EKRE's official candidate, but may not get sufficient votes at the Riigikogu to run, at least in the early ballots.
The public appeal is addressed both to the Riigikogu and the electoral college, where the fourth and fifth ballots will be held – if the process draws out that long – and where Põlluaas has a greater chance to pick up the 21 votes needed to run.
The statement is signed by retired and reservist officers from the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF), including sitting EKRE MP Leo Kunnas, and says that Estonia needs a unifying president, who would ensure the country's security.
"We, the undersigned, believe that Henn Polluaas would be such a president, and we support the candidacy of reserve officer and member of the Kaitseliit Henn Polluaas for the presidency of the Republic of Estonia," the statement reads.
The document is signed by Reserve Brig. Gen. Alar Laneman, Ret. Col. Uno Kaskpeit, Ret. Col. Manivald Kasepõld, Reserve Col. Riho Breivel, Ret. Lt. Col. Jaak Haud, Ret. Lt. Col. Einar Laigna, Ret. Lt. Col. Raul Öpik, Ret. Lt. Col. Toomas Boltowsky, Reserve Lt. Col. Leo Kunnas, Reserve Lt. Col. Tõnu Reinup and Lt. Col. Kristjan Moora, BNS reports.
The EDF includes the navy (Merevägi) and air force (Õhuvägi), which are not separate services.
The statement also says Estonian needs an experienced head of state who would uphold the constitution and hold the country's independence, language and culture in the highest esteem, as well as one who would listen to the mass of the populace and promote democracy.
Põlluaas, 61, was speaker of the XIV Riigikogu 2019 to spring this year.
Sixty-eight votes are needed at the 101-seat chamber to actually become president, meaning MPs from at least three of the five represented parties must agree on a candidate at some point.
Reform and Center have pledged for national museum director Alar Karis, but with 59 votes between them they need another nine from Isamaa (12 seats) or the Social Democrats (11).
Both of these parties' leaders have given MPs the go ahead to vote as they wish, while early indications are that around half of MPs from each party may pick Karis.
The official nominations for the first round ballot are finalized this Sunday evening, the secret ballot itself starts after lunch on the Monday. If it draws a blank, the process – of nominations and secret ballot – repeats Tuesday morning, while if that is also inconclusive, a run-off ballot is to be held Tuesday afternoon, between the two most voted candidates from round two.
If this doesn't return a head of state either, the process continues in September at the regional electoral colleges, made up on municipal representatives and Riigikogu members and actually convening in Tallinn for the vote.
Karis is now officially nominated and is the only candidate to have done so so far. Kersti Kaljulaid is eligible for a second consecutive term.
Editor: Andrew Whyte