MEP Marina Kaljurand (SDE) says she will not take up her Riigikogu seat, and will remain a member of the European Parliament. Tallinn Zoo director Tiit Maran will take her place as alternate member.
Sitting MEPs may not hold Riigikogu seats also. Maran is not a Social Democrats (SDE) party member, but ran on the party's list and will sit in its Riigikogu group.
Kaljurand noted on her social media account that she had: "Decided to continue in the European Parliament. I think that in the current situation, I will be more helpful, more useful, and I can do more for Estonia there."
The MEP also said that she was influenced by who her replacement would be, ie. Maran, who she described as a "very dignified person" who would complement SDE's ranks at the Riigikogu, particularly on key issues to the party like the environment and climate change.
"My replacement member will be Tiit Maran, whom we all know as the director of the zoo, but who we will soon get to know as a member of the Riigikogu," she noted.
Maran had also told ERR on Wednesday that he would be going to parliament, listing its environment committee as one possible area he could work in once there.
Marina Kaljurand received 4,145 votes in the Harju and Rapla counties electoral district.
Kaljurand ran in the SDE number one spot, Maran was second on the party's list and polled at 709 votes.
The party picked up 9 seats overall.
Under Estonia's electoral system, when an elected MP vacates the seat for any reason – in Kaljurand's case to retain her MEP seat – the next candidate on the party's ordered list not to have won a seat takes their place. Should the original incumbent return to the Riigkogu, this alternate MP must make way for them.
It is precisely the machinations of the system that prompts parties to run "vote magnet" candidates top of the list, even as these may be unlikely to take up a seat. Excess votes a popular candidate accrues over and above the quota needed for a seat can be distributed to members further down on the same list, and enable them to win a seat in this way or, as in this case, to be promoted to the Riigikogu if the elected MP does not take up their seat.
The next European elections take place next year.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mait Ots