European Commission Director-General for Mobility and Transport Henrik Hololei has resigned from Isamaa, a party which he helped found.
According to public data available from the Commercial Register, Hololei left Isamaa on March 25.
Hololei was a founding member of RKEI, a forerunner of Isamaa, in 1992. While he left to join the more left-leaning Moderate People's Party, forerunner to the present-day Social Democrats (SDE) from 1998 to 2004, he then joined Res Publica, one of two parties which merged to form IRL, renamed Isamaa in 2018.
Hololei said he had been highly disturbed by the expulsion of four members of the Parempoolsed ("Right Wingers") faction of Isamaa, telling daily Eesti Päevaleht (link in Estonian) on March 10 that Isamaa as a party had ceased to exist, for him, from that time.
Isamaa's board opted to expel four of the Parempoolsed – despite its name broadly representing some of the more socially liberal elements of the party – namely former minister Siim Kiisler, former prosecutor general Lavly Perling, Kristjan Vanaselja and Tõnis Kons.
While according to the Commercial Register, on March 9, Isamaa had 7,625 members, by today, Wednesday, the figure had fallen to 7,379, meaning 246 people had left in three weeks.
The Parempoolsed decided last week to continue as a group in politics, with the intention of forming a new, full-fledged political party ahead of the March 2023 general election.
Isamaa's chair, Helir-Valdor Seeder, has made statements to the media to the effect that it is committed to patriotic ideals, and will not be led astray by members leaving.
"Both new members of the party have joined us and returning members are rejoining, all of whom are expected to take an active part in policy as developed by the party. Noone who wants to promote patriotic values will be left behind," Seeder said (Isamaa literally translates as "Fatherland" - ed.).
The most recent weekly Norstat poll put Isamaa's support at 5.5 percent, following a nearly 2-percent fall in support over the past five weeks.
Five percent is a significant level, since under Estonia's d'Hondt system of proportional representation, it is the minimum figure required to win seats in any constituency.
A political party needs a minimum of 500 members by law in order to be registered as such.
The most recently-formed political parties in Estonia are TULE, formed by a merger of the former Free Party, which had six seats in the last Riigikogu composition, and the former Richness of Life Party, as well as Eesti 200, which was founded in 2018 and won its first seats at last October's local election.
Editor: Andrew Whyte