Social Democratic Party (SDE) Indrek Saar is not planning on running for party chairman again. Riina Sikkut and Lauri Läänemets have thrown their hats in the ring.
"My decision is that I will not run for chairman again. The party will choose a prime ministerial candidate for the Riigikogu elections and I think this person should bring new energy to the party," Saar told Eesti Päevaleht (link in Estonian) on Tuesday evening.
The Social Democratic Party decided this summer to not change leadership before the local government elections and will choose a new chairman next February.
SDE member Riina Sikkut, who ran against Saar for the position of party chairwoman, told ERR around Tuesday noon that the leadership's mandate was extended until the end of February.
Sikkut said she will certainly run for a seat in the party council and is prepared to step into the position of party chairwoman at the next party assembly. "Nothing has actually changed from two years ago. I was ready to run then and nothing has changed now," the MP said.
Lauri Läänemets, who also ran for chairman in 2019, also announced his willingness to run for chairman. He noted that the party needs new leadership.
"I am completely convinced that this exclusively liberal direction will not give us results. Social Democrats should be social democrats before all," Läänemets said on Monday.
Saar: I have done the best I could as leader
Around noon on Tuesday, Saar did not want to say if he is willing to step down as chairman after his party received disappointing results at the local government elections.
"Since I have not spoken to my people on the subject, it is not correct for me to put out any statements. Things will become clear in the near future," Saar told ERR.
He noted that the party's chairman is responsible for election results. "Our leadership's mandate was extended with the knowledge of having to get through the local elections, after which the party will choose new leadership," Saar said.
He said the current leadership's mandate will end in the end of the year. "We will begin discussing this when the general assembly takes place and elections have been wrapped up and coalitions have been agreed to," the chairman said.
The party received more than 60,000 votes and 10.4 percent support in the previous local election cycle, but only 29,000 total votes and 5 percent support this time. The Social Democrats were victorious in Hiiu County and the city of Võru. Party members were also quite successful in electoral alliances, but the party lost a significant amount of support as a whole.
Saar said the Social Democrats did not get the desired results because of the new parties in the political landscape. "In a situation, where newcomers are entering the picture, something needs to be given away and we were among those who gave away their seats in Tallinn and Tartu," the chairman noted.
Saar said he does not feel like he let the party down. "I have done the best I could as a leader. And considering the Social Democratic Party's results, we must also look behind the numbers. While Social Democrats won the elections in Hiiu County, Social Democrats also won the elections in Saare County as electoral alliance members. The picture across Estonia is more colorful than the piece of cake, which is running under the party's flag. There is still a remarkable number of Social Democrats in local government councils," the SDE chair said.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste