Parempoolsed member may take up vacant Riigikogu seat

Siim Kiisler.
Siim Kiisler. Source: ERR

The new coalition due to take office on Monday means that one Riigikogu seat will be vacated which could be taken up by a dissident former Isamaa member.

Isamaa MP Urmas Reinsalu has been appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs, a post he had previously held from April 2019 to January 2021, following the apportioning of ministerial posts to Reform, Isamaa and the Social Democrats.

Since government ministers do not sit at the Riigikogu, if picked from parliament the vacated seat is then taken up by the next alternate member, generally the next person in line on a party's list who did not win a seat at the last general election.

Siim Kiisler, who was expelled from Isamaa in March due to his membership of the breakaway Parempoolsed ("Right Wingers") faction, is reportedly next in line for the seat, and may take it up.

Kiisler said his decision, on whether to take up the seat or not: "Depends on how I can organize my current and future work affairs, and whether or not there is additional room there for Riigikogu work."

"I will give it some thought over the weekend. The new ministers are due to take office on Monday, meaning I have time to consider it until that point in time," Kiisler went on.

Were he to take up the seat, Kiisler would be the sole MP from the Parempoolsed – which was originally set up in reaction to Isamaa's stint in office with the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and also includes former prosecutor general Lavly Perling, who was also expelled, in its ranks – and this might give the group, not yet a full-fledged political party, some wiggle-room for getting involved in politics.

"Even if you are in a very, very, very small minority," Kiisler told ERR, adding that the appointment of Reinsalu to the cabinet had come as a surprise to him.

As an effectively independent MP, Kiisler would not be beholden to any particular party, though independents in the past have often voted with on particular Riigikogu party group. His presence may also mean the government was down one seat at the 101-seat chamber.

Kiisler is a former environment minister in the Center/Isamaa/SDE administration under Jüri Ratas.

In addition to Kiisler and Perling, Isamaa also expelled Kristjan Vanaselja and Tõnis Kons from the party.

Lavly Perling had led a leadership challenge to incumbent Isamaa chief Helir-Valdor Seeder, but was defeated. She also ran in the October 2021 local elections, winning a seat in, and becoming deputy council chair of, Saue municipality, just outside Tallinn.

Under Estonia's electoral rules, a political party must have a minimum of 500 members to be declared as such.

The current make-up of the current, XIV Riigikogu consists of five political parties, one down from the XIII Riigikogu, where the now-defunct Free Party had held six seats..

Another challenger ahead of the March 5 2023 general election is Eesti 200, which has been an organized party since 2018 and which won its first seats at last autumn's local election.

Both Eesti 200 and the Parempoolsed rival not only Isamaa, but also the other two coalition parties, Reform and SDE, for instance on social issues, and could potentially gain votes at the established parties' expense.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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