The opposition Social Democrats (SDE) and Isamaa are leveraging their position in the presidential elections to get exposure ahead of October's local elections, senior ERR journalist Anvar Samost said on Monday. Looking at Karis' 63 votes, some MPs must have given misleading statements to the media about how they would vote, he added.
Appearing on ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) Monday evening, Samost said that he: "Would not rule out a minor desire here to play a little with the coalition, to test its unity, its strength, then to look at tomorrow, with a view to acting differently then."
Monday's failure to elect Karis also gave the opposition parties the chance to enjoy the limelight ahead of October's local elections, he said.
Karis received 63 votes when he needed 68. While Reform and Center have 59 votes between them, assuming all MPs vote for the coalition's official presidential candidate, this leaves them needing nine votes from either the Social Democrats (SDE) or Isamaa.
SDE have been more lukewarm towards Karis as a candidate; some Isamaa MPs are thought to have voted for him at Monday's secret ballot.
Samost also said that Reform and Center also need to stick with Karis in order to preserve their reputations in any case.
As to Monday's vote, based on interviews with MPs on Monday, the tally would have been as many as 74 votes for Karis, meaning several MPs have been misleading in their statements to the media, Samost added.
This was more likely to involve SDE and Isamaa, he said, though not entirely. "It is difficult to say exactly where those votes went, which seemed to have been cast. But it seems to me that there is more reason to look to the opposition parties. Although one or two votes may have been lost from the Center Party and the Reform Party."
The fact that there was only one candidate at Monday's ballot, national museum director Alar Karis, did not mean Estonia picking up a negative image in the international media, Samost continued, adding that each presidential election since the restoration of independence seemed to take on a very different character.
"In Estonia, presidential elections have always been held in different ways since the restoration of independence," he said.
"Although [electoral] law has remained mostly the same, the political situation has been different, the results from the [general] election preceding the presidential elections has been different in terms of party groups and parties at the Riigikogu, and, as a result, how many [presidential] candidates we get at the Riigikogu and at what point they will be put forward and how the electoral process will progress," he added.
"This is just one variation of the many possibilities that the Estonian constitution can create in presidential elections," Samost added.
Editor: Andrew Whyte