Riigikogu member Anastassia Kovalenko-Kõlvart has officially joined the Center Party, ERR reports.
Kovalenko-Kõlvart ran for Center at the recent Riigikogu elections, polling at 2,806 votes in the Tallinn Haabersti, Põhja Tallinn and Kristiine electoral district, and won a seat in her own right.
She had already been sitting in the Riigikogu since last April, when she entered as alternate member to Social Democratic Party (SDE) MP Jevgeni Ossinovski, who left to become Tallinn City Council Chair, and had sat with Center's MPs at that point and voted with the party.
However, she only became a paid-up member on Tuesday, according to data ERR obtained from the Commercial Register.
In early March 2022, ie. the month before becoming an MP, Kovalenko, a former pro motorcyle racer, married Tallinn Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart, taking on the double-barreled surname as a result.
Kovalenko had also run for the Center Party in the 2021 local elections, winning a city council seat, with 339 votes.
MPs may also sit as local council deputies, and around half of the XIV Riigkogu's members did just that, though they may not take up municipal government positions, or the post of council chair (hence Jevgeni Ossinovski having to vacate his Riigikogu seat last year).
Kovalenko-Kõlvart had previously been an SDE member, from 2017-2020, but had not won a Riigigkogu seat with the party.
Upon leaving SDE in June 2020, Kovalenko-Kõlvart posted on her social media account that while that party had stood for solidarity and tolerance when she joined it, it no longer did. She was writing in the context of what she referred to as SDE's approval of Tallinn being demographically divided based on first language and ethnicity.
She also said that she would sit as an independent deputy in Tallinn city council and had no plans to join another party at that point.
She won a local government seat in the October 2017 elections, with 392 votes and via the compensation mandate route; she polled at 367 votes in the 2019 Riigkogu election, running in the Tallinn Kesklinn, Lasnamäe and Pirita district, but did not win a seat.
Center had as of March 22, 2023, 13,781 members, according to the Commercial Register.
The party saw its Riigikogu seats tally fall to 16 on March 5; it had won 26 at the 2019 Riigikogu election, and was in office at the national level, continually and with all represented parties - Reform, SDE, Isamaa and EKRE, from November 2016, to June 2022.
Tallinn Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart has also announced a party leadership bid.
Editor: Andrew Whyte