MP Mihhail Stalnuhhin, who was kicked out of the Center Party last fall after publicly calling those removing Soviet monuments Nazis and Kaja Kallas and members of the Estonian government fascists, intends to make history and be re-elected to the Riigikogu as an independent this March. If elected, Stalnuhhin has promised to found a new party.
To date, Stalnuhhin has been elected to the Riigikogu as a member of the Center Party six times. He is running for re-election again this spring, but this time as an independent. Historically, independent candidates have not been successful in getting elected to the Riigikogu.
"I don't see a single political party in the current political landscape that suits me," he said. "It's that attitude toward the events that occurred in Narva [last] August, and there will likely be more of those to come. That is decisive. And at the same time, I saw significant support around me. This is the most reasonable decision."
The ex-Center MP has not yet finished drawing up his election campaign platform and doesn't intend to unveil it before his competition anyway, but he claims that he does not intend to focus exclusively on the Russian-speaking population.
"My voter is a resident of Ida-Viru [County]," Stalnuhhin explained. "One that understands that the government is incapable of solving economic and social issues and, to keep people thinking less about that, thinks up some sort of enemies it suggests people fight. They are a very pragmatic person, my voter."
In an appearance on Vikerraadio's "Uudis+," Erik Gamzejev, editor-in-chief of regional paper Põhjarannik, said that Stalnuhhin's election result would provide a more precise measure than many sociological studies of how many Estonian citizens live in Ida-Viru County whose views conflict with the positions and values of the majority of Estonian society.
According to Stalnuhhin himself, however, the positions he and his supporters hold rather conflict with the views of Estonia's political elite. He noted that the parties themselves may even be big, but decisions are nonetheless made by the elite, which he claims to include some 100 or 200 people — and in a country of 1.3 million no less.
"If I'm elected to the Riigikogu, I'm going to found a new political party," he promised. "I parted ways with the Center Party, but I still espouse a centrist mindset. It is rather the party's leadership that has deviated from this path."
Last September, Stalnuhhin told ERR that he saw no fertile soil for the establishment of a Russian party in Estonia. He also had doubts about a possible run in the Riigikogu elections as an independent candidate and indicated he'd rather continue working as a teacher.
Some 4,000 votes needed for personal mandate
In order to be elected to the Riigikogu as an independent, i.e. by earning a personal mandate, Stalnuhhin has to earn at least a simple quota's worth of votes in Ida-Viru County (Electoral District 7), a feat he has accomplished in half of the elections in which he has previously run.
The size of an electoral district's simple quota is determined by dividing the number of persons who voted in the district by the number of mandates assigned to it. Due to low voter turnout, this figure in Ida-Viru County has fallen from elections to elections, but candidates should expect to count on some 4,000 votes.
To date, an independent candidate has never successfully been elected to the Riigikogu. "Oil shale king" Väino Viilup came close in 1992, who earned 5,007 votes in the elections, likewise in Ida-Viru County, but nonetheless fell just short of the personal mandate quota.
MP and Narva City Council member Mihhail Stalnuhhin was expelled from the Center Party last September after he said in a Russian-language video posted to social media that he considered those removing monuments dedicated to Soviet soldiers Nazis and called members of the Estonian government and Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (reform) fascists.
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.
Up for grabs in Ida-Viru County will be 6 mandates, or seats.
MPs are elected to the Riigikogu for a five-year term.
Editor: Aili Vahtla