A recently-elected Tallinn city councilor has quit the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) in protest over a large-scale demonstration against coronavirus restrictions held in Tallinn on Saturday, which was attended by leading members of the party and their supporters.
The development means EKRE, which is in opposition in Tallinn, now has six city council seats where it previously had seven.
Piret Remmak-Grassmann, who won a city council seat in the Pirita district, stated on her social media account Sunday that: "Yesterday's Vabaduse väljak demonstration, in a situation where scheduled treatments have been suspended, and where doctors, nurses and caregivers are making superhuman efforts and fighting for human lives, no longer permits me to remain silent or remain a passive bystander.
"I am embarrassed and sorry that public health and income, people's fears and disappointments are thrown so cynically under the election bus," she continued.
"The long-standing calls from EKRE's leadership to ignore reality, ignore the dangers of this virus and the efforts to combat it are irresponsible. I do not want a Tallinn or Estonia which are closed, but want lost lives and broken families much less. I find it hard to believe that anyone could want that, but this is the road which my former home party is moving down. I do not know nor can comprehend why," Remmak-Grassman, who polled 237 votes, said.
Remmak-Grassman says she has no plans to vacate the seat that she won, which means she will remain as an independent as things stand, unless she joins another of the represented parties.
"I do not want the (Pirita) district to lose a seat on the council, and I do not want that council seat to go to a party that does not share the values that the people of Pirita who have supported me consider to be right," she continued.
While Remmak-Grassman was the highest-profile EKRE member to leave the party in direct response to Saturday's protest, at least two other party members who have run for election in recent years have done so.
Mari-Liis Lillemets, who came polled second (with 141 votes) on the EKRE party list at the last Riigikogu elections in 2019, has also left the party she joined in 2014, portal Delfi reports (link in Estonian), while Urmas Simon, who ran in the city center district at last Sunday's local elections, polling 17 votes, made a similar announcement on his social media account.
He wrote: "Finally, yesterday's demonstration, in which the party chairman publicly demands the overthrow of a democratically elected government, was enough. How [will this be accomplished] - was it a call for a revolution or the violent overthrow of the government?"
EKRE had 10,039 members as of Sunday, ERR reports.
Saturday's protest in Vabaduse väljak was not EKRE-led as such, though its leadership were in attendance.
The four-hour demonstration was led by Varro Vooglaid, head of the Foundation for the Protection of the Family and Tradition (SAPTK).
Editor: Andrew Whyte