The current mayor of the town of Paide, Priit Värk, has been expelled from Isamaa. Värk was running with a local electoral alliance in Paide, rather than for Isamaa.
Värk confirmed to ERR that he had received an e-mail from the party on Tuesday evening informing him of his expulsion.
He added that two more candidates from Paide, Jüri Kaugerand and Viljar Pennert, had had to leave the party with him.
Although noone had previously contacted Värk on the matter, the official reason given was that he was running in the Paide electoral alliance, Uus Paide.
"I couldn't say if it was just an example of what might happen to people, but everybody else will probably be warned," Värk said of the development.
"There are probably other reasons behind it as well. It is well-known that I have been a dissident in the party. I have my own beliefs, I have not bent them and I will not bend them according to one party or Helir-Valdor Seeders (chairman of the party)."
Värk conceded that people have been expelled from Isamaa in the past when they have run against the party, but these cases have been exceptional, he said.
"I can't recall that in [the local election year of] 2017, for example, someone would have been expelled for that reason."
Värk said that he did not hold any resentment against the Isamaa party, but added that he did not want to resign due to his beliefs, because he had hoped to change the party from within.
"I just didn't want to give up," he confirmed. "I wanted to do my best to bring change to the party. To make that change more right-wing, sensible conservatism and friendly nationalism. Not the current line," Värk said.
Värk is now running in the upcoming elections to Paide council as the first number on the Uus Paide electoral list.
Four years ago, Isamaa was the most successful party in Paide, gaining six seats in the council. At that time, Mihhail Feštšin (228 votes), Värk (168 votes), Andres Jalak (154 votes) and Raivo Raja (99 votes) brought the most votes to the party. This time, only Feštšin is running on the party's list.
According to the commercial register, Värk became a member of Isamaa on March 16, 2009, and was expelled from the party on September 28, 2021.
Värk was also a member of the Parempoolsed faction inside Isamaa, which sharply criticized the course of the current chairman of the party, Helir-Valdor Seeder.
Seeder faced a leadership challenge in late June from the Parempoolsed, when former prosecutor general Lavly Perling ran against him at the party's board meeting in Tartu. Seeder held on to the chairmanship, but both before and after the event has faced charges in the media of acting somewhat dictatorially.
Lavly Perling is running in Saue in next month's local elections, for Isamaa; former foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu is Isamaa's Tallinn mayoral candidate.
Electoral alliances arise during local elections and provide an alternative to mainstream parties, by focusing on issues specific to the municipality. While there are fewer registered this time around than in the past, most major towns, along with many smaller municipalities, have seen their appearance. Two are running in Tallinn, including one Russian-language focused alliance.
Editor: Roberta Vaino, Andrew Whyte