MP Kaido Höövelson will most likely be the Center Party's top candidate in Ida-Viru County in the 2023 Riigikogu elections next March, the party's secretary general confirmed Monday.
"The [party] board hasn't confirmed the [electoral] districts' top candidates and lists as a whole yet," Center Party secretary general Andre Hanimägi told ERR on Monday afternoon. "But it's likely going to be Kaido Höövelson."
Höövelson told ERR that he is prepared to run for election as the party's top pick in the Northeastern Estonian county. "Of course I'm willing," he said. "I'm willing to carry that list and contribute to the [election] campaign."
He noted that he had actually started campaigning two months ago already. "I've already launched campaigns in the bigger cities; the smaller settlements are still waiting their turn for now," the MP said.
Höövelson cited people coping in the energy crisis, pension increases and reducing taxes on food as among the most crucial issues.
"Because Ida-Viru County is our home front when it comes to energy, we need a clear message regarding what will become of oil shale and over what time period," he said.
ERR asked the Center MP what relationship, if any, Ida-Viru County residents have with the name Höövelson and how familiar he is to residents in that area.
"I'm not an unfamiliar name in sports circles, and many different combat sports clubs exist in Ida-Viru County," Höövelson replied. "What relationship an Ida-Viru County resident has with my name, that I of course don't know. Work needs to be done to that end. I have always liked Ida-Viru County; it has always been very close to my heart."
He also noted that he is fluent in Russian and owns a summer cottage in Ida-Viru County as well.
Höövelson said that he is currently active serving as president of the Estonian Sumo Association (ESL), organizing competitions and giving kids lessons. He added that he intends to bring the 2023 European Sumo Championships to Narva next year.
In the 2019 Riigikogu elections, MEP Yana Toom ran as the Center Party's top candidate in Ida-Viru County. Toom said in late September that although her party had asked her to run for election in Ida-Viru County again in the upcoming elections, she decided not to, and will very likely be running in Tallinn instead.
Hanimägi, the party's secretary general, did not indicate where Toom will most likely ultimately run.
The 2023 Riigikogu elections, in which all of the Estonian parliament's 101 seats are up for election, will be held on Sunday, March 5.
MPs are elected to the Riigikogu for a four-year term.
Editor: Aili Vahtla