Eesti 200 leader: Direct presidential elections would be bad thing

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Eesti 200 leader Kristina Kallas talking to ETV Tuesday. Source: ERR

A president directly elected by the people would not be a good thing, Eesti 200 leader Kristina Kallas says.

"This would not be a good thing for Estonia. Estonia is a parliamentary country, it is built in this way and this shoulder of power in politics must reside in the legislature," Kallas told ETV's live link to Tuesday's presidential election at the Riigikogu.

Direct elections of presidents, who under the constitution are elected by the Riigikogu, followed by an electoral college comprising the national and local legislatures, have been proposed by the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and, more recently, by the Center Party.

Kallas said that the move could concentrate too much power in one pair of hands.

"If we directly elect a president, this individual will get a very large mandate, he or she could get 300,000 Estonian votes. And they would have to promise people something during this election campaign, plus the temptation to deal with both domestic and foreign policy during the presidency will be very great," she continued.

"As a result, the person who actually leads the Estonian state will disappear," she continued.

Kallas, whose party is not represented at the Riigikogu and so does not vote at the presidential election taking place Monday and Tuesday, accused the represented parties of taking a very passive role in the presidential election. 

"Instead, two party leaders are actually electing a president for Estonia, although the creators of our constitution have envisaged that this be the work of the board of the Riigikogu, and the Riigikogu itself," Kallas said, referring to the coalition party leaders Jüri Ratas (Center) and Kaja Kallas (Reform).

Ratas is also Riigikogu speaker and so oversees the presidential election.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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