Toom: Jüri Ratas made mistakes, but so did other board members and regions

Jüri Ratas and Yana Toom at the Center's election night party in Tallinn on March 5, 2023.
Jüri Ratas and Yana Toom at the Center's election night party in Tallinn on March 5, 2023. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Yana Toom, vice chair of the Center Party said on "Uudis+" that Jüri Ratas cannot be held solely responsible for the Center Party's poor performance in the state elections and asked to resign as party chair.

The Center Party won 16 seats in the elections, 10 fewer than in the previous election four years ago.

Yana Toom said that while the reasons could be found both within the party as well as in Estonian society, the poor outcome is not the fault of a single person.

"Jüri Ratas, to be sure, made mistakes, but so did Yana Toom, Lauri Laats and all of the board members and regions. We are no longer a party of a single leader. We are all accountable," she said.

According to Toom, the party's lack of funds also had an impact, resulting in a small election campaign.

"We were living on a tight budget, with debts and problems. We got rid of them but this was reflected in a very low-key election campaign in which we, the candidates, essentially paid for a lot of things ourselves. We invested a significant amount of money in the campaign, but we still didn't match the campaigns that we had before," she said.

Toom ran as a candidate in Ida-Viru County, where she won the Center Party's sole mandate.

According to her, this is obviously disappointing. "It's sad. But it's a lesson. It seems that the most valuable experiences are often the negative ones. So in that sense we were lucky," she said.

Toom said it is understandable that voters in Ida-Viru County cast so many protest votes this time, while the usual favorite, the Center Party, received a mediocre result.

"Protest is just that: protest. Another consideration is its long-term viability. And this is a concern for the entire country. The Center Party is the political force that has managed to bring the two language communities together for many years. If it fails, if Center has a weak mandate, it shows how divided society is," Toom said.

Toom has yet to decide whether she will remain in the European Parliament in Brussels or return to Estonia.

"As I said to my voters, if we remain in opposition, which is probably the case, I will go to Brussels because I have voters there too. The assumption is that you can do something in politics, but the Estonian political culture is such that you can't do anything in opposition because you will hit a brick wall. So I would avoid it for the time being. Of course, if we (the Center Party - ed.) form a coalition, I will look into other options," Toom said.


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Editor: Kristina Kersa

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