Alar Karis fails to get elected at Riigikogu first ballot

The first round of voting at the 2021 presidential election on August 30.
The first round of voting at the 2021 presidential election on August 30. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Alar Karis has failed to get enough votes at the Riigkogu to become president after the first ballot. The election will continue Tuesday morning.

Karis, the only candidate nominated for the first ballot, received 63 votes, five short of the 68 needed to carry two-thirds of the Riigikogu. 16 ballots were left unmarked.

There were 80 ballots handed out, 79 MPs handed in their votes. EKRE chose earlier on Monday to not vote and did not take any ballots with them. Reform MP Siim Kallas and Isamaa Party chairman Helir-Valdor Seeder did not participate in the Riigikogu session.

While the coalition parties, Reform and Center, had pledged for Karis last week, with 59 seats between them, they needed nine more votes from two of the three opposition parties, the Social Democrats (SDE) and Isamaa, to get their candidate elected.

Not enough MPs from these two parties voted for Karis, however.

The other opposition party, the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) has proposed its own candidate, Henn Põlluaas. EKRE party members did not pick up ballots and did not vote in the first round of presidential elections.

Karis: I will not go around convincing anyone

Alar Karis, the only presidential candidate in Monday's Riigikogu vote, said he will not go around convincing MPs before the second election round at 12 p.m. on Tuesday.

"I do not believe I should convince anyone. If party members have questions, I will certainly answer them. But I will not call MPs and hand them pens," Karis said.

The candidate said the vote showed that while the coalition's votes held up, opposition representatives still had their doubts.

What happens next?

Nominations for the second ballot open at 8.00 a.m. Tuesday and close at 10.00 a.m. Candidates require 21 votes to be officially nominated and to run.

Prime minister Kaja Kallas said Monday morning that her party would stick with Karis throughout the process, while Center have reportedly said they will do the same.

Current incumbent Kersti Kaljulaid is eligible for a second consecutive term, but has not declared at this stage.

The second ballot takes place at 12.00 p.m. Tuesday, following the same format as the first.

If this ballot proves inconclusive as well, a third ballot is held as a run-off between the top two candidates by votes from round two. If Karis is still the sole candidate in round two, he would remain so in the third ballot.

If the third ballot also draws a blank, the process continues at the electoral college within one month.

The electoral college consists of 107 local government representatives plus the 101 Riigikogu members, giving a total number of 208 votes.

While 21 votes are still required to run in the electoral college, only 50 percent of the vote (compared with two-thirds at the Riigikogu) is required to be elected president.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Kristjan Kallaste

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