Martin Helme: EKRE members will not pick up ballots
The Conservative People's Party of Estonia's (EKRE) Riigikogu group has agreed to not vote and will not pick up ballots in the first round of presidential elections on Monday, party chairman Martin Helme told ERR.
"We will not take ballots and will not support Alar Karis and we do not want to give coalition (Reform, Center) representatives the opportunity to spin," Helme said.
He denied that this decision will take away the party members' free will and added that no EKRE member was opposed to the idea. "It is the free will of members that they do not wish to support Karis and why cause this circus with blank ballots," the EKRE chairman said.
Helme said the focus is already on the electoral college, because he does not think Alar Karis will gather enough votes in the Riigikogu to become president. "By my calculations, the votes will not work out today," the former finance minister explained.
With 59 seats combined, Reform and Center, the coalition partners, are eight votes short of the 68 required for Karis. The three opposition parties are the Social Democrats (SDE) with 11 seats, Isamaa with 12 and the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) with 19.
Helme said the coalition's votes are not 100 percent certain, either, and that the other opposition parties have not given out any certain confirmations. Isamaa and SDE leaders have noted that party members are free to vote with their own conscience in Monday's vote.
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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste