Social Democratic Party (SDE) chairman Indrek Saar said at the party's council meeting in Pärnu on Sunday that the Social Democrats are represented in more local government councils than initially forecast.
Saar said the Social Democrats have never been this present in local municipality leadership. "As a Social Democrat and someone from Saaremaa, I will start from the left: Saaremaa, Hiiumaa, Põhja-Pärnumaa, Saarde, Tallinn, Viimsi, Jõelähtme, Kadrina, Väike-Maarja, Vinni, Türi, Paide, Viljandi, Jõgeva, Tartu linn ja Tartu vald, Kastre, Toila, Narva, Võru vald ja Võru linn, Setomaa," Saar listed the 22 local municipalities, in which SDE is represented in the government council.
"These 22 communities have gotten a Social Democratic municipality or city government. The list also consists of three major Estonian cities and eight county centers from Seto to Saare," Saar said.
The party chairman said the worries over local election results were understandable. "In those moments, thanks to superficial media coverage, it was truly difficult to understand our actual results, because there were only two red spots on the Estonian map," Saar noted.
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.
"In actuality, we had 233 council members, which is 18 more than in the 2017 local government elections. The Social Democrats are represented in more than half of Estonia's councils," the party chair said.
He added that the party's ability to hold negotiations and create coalition governments was key in giving SDE a positive result. The party signed a coalition agreement with the Center Party to create a coalition government in Tallinn, which gave SDE the positions of Nõmme district elder and three deputy mayor positions, in addition to the position of city council chairman.
Social Democratic Party to choose new leadership in February
The SDE council has called for a general assembly on February 5 in Tallinn and the party plans on choosing a new chair, deputy chairs and management.
Party council chairman Eiki Nestor said the assembly is an important milestone for the 2023 Riigikogu elections.
Indrek Saar has already announced that he will not continue as party chairman and pointed to MEP Marina Kaljurand as someone that could take over, but the former foreign minister was not too keen in her response.
Former health minister and SDE member Riina Sikkut has thrown her hat into the ring, as has Lauri Läänemets. Both of them ran against Saar for the position of party chair during the previous general assembly chairman election.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste