Journalist: No alternative to Martin Helme as EKRE leader

Urmas Jaagant on Monday's 'Aktuaalne kaamera'.
Urmas Jaagant on Monday's 'Aktuaalne kaamera'. Source: ERR

While the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) was one of the losers at Sunday's Riigikogu election, Eesti Ekspress political editor Urmas Jaagant says, the party has no alternative as leader to its current incumbent, Martin Helme.

Jaagant appeared on ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" Monday night, and gave an interview which follows in its entirety.

Who were the biggest losers in this election?

It seems that this circle is much wider than that of the winners'. The Center Party saw a rather poor result. To lose 10 seats… regardless of what the party's financial situation or other issues are, is very hard to justify it.

Ten seats is a major loss and, while the result for the party's chair (Jüri Ratas-ed.) was not bad, the whole result still is.

The Social Democratic Party's (SDE) results were not great, and some of the party's current ministers (SDE remains in office with Reform and Isamaa on a caretaker basis until the next coalition deal is signed-ed.) didn't even manage to muster 1,000 votes.

Isamaa had the same problem – two ministers, both flag bearers of Isamaa's main topics, did not even get 500 votes (Jaagant was referring to sitting Minister of Justice Lea Danilson-Järg and Minister of IT and Foreign Trade Kristjan Järvan, who polled at 367 votes and 408 votes respectively, though both of them ran in Tallinn-ed.). This is without a doubt a very poor result.

What was EKRE's failure based on?

It is difficult to isolate one specific thing. Certainly, there were these stand-offs with the commander of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF), as reported several times. This is surprising, because EKRE, as a nationalist political party, certainly has many voters and members who are connected to the EDF and the Defense League (Kaitseliit). It seems strange to go into a fight with someone who is highly respected in these circles.

Is it time for a serious think about leadership change for EKRE?

You could think in that way with any other party, but if we look at how this particular party operates, it is based on the Helme family. It was created and built by them. I don't see who the "gauntlet thrower" could be to take over the party from them, now.

Jüri Ratas has just announced that he is not going to resign, but when looking at Center's results, shouldn't this party also have a change of leadership?

Perhaps the Center Party does not have such a great leader [to replace Ratas]. After all, Jüri Ratas also has one election ahead of him next year - the next European Parliamentary elections. He must be looking to that. Maybe that would be one such possibility. If there is a desire to no longer participate in domestic politics, this is one option for him.

Which coalition do you think is most likely?

If you listen to how much this stability is emphasized, I would think that it is the Reform Party, Eesti 200 and SDE (Jaagant gave the interview before Tuesday morning's announcement by the prime minister that her party would indeed be inviting Eesti 200 and SDE to the table, for coalition talks-ed.).


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: Aktuaalne kaamera

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