Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) chairman Martin Helme said the first round of presidential elections went exactly how he predicted.
"The Riigikogu did not elect a president today (Monday) and will not elect one tomorrow. We like that. Elections will go to the electoral college and the chances of our candidate Henn Põlluaas will get even better," Helme said.
The EKRE chairman told ERR before the vote that EKRE's Riigikogu group made a decision to not vote in the first round and did not pick up any ballots. 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.
Social Democrats: There were coalition votes missing, too
Social Democratic Party deputy chairman Lauri Läänemets said some coalition members did not vote for Karis, either. "Considering the insider knowledge of our Riigikogu faction and believing that half of Isamaa voted for Karis, then the coalition must go over their roster. It seems some of them have also not voted, otherwise the result would have been closer," Läänemets said.
He added that one option is to look for further support for Karis from the opposition. Finding another candidate is also an option. "For this, Karis must convince some people or a new candidate has to be found and this time, it should be done commonly and not just in the coalition," the Social Democratic Party deputy chair said.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste