Center's Lauri Laats quitting as Mustamäe elder to take up Riigikogu seat

Lauri Laats (Center).
Lauri Laats (Center). Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Mustamäe district elder (Linnaosavanem) Lauri Laats (Center) has said he will take up a Riigikogu seat, rather than retain his city government post, which he has held for the past four years.

Writing in the district newspaper – free publications issued by the Tallinn city government's districts – Laats, also a businessman, noted that he would be heading for parliament.

"I'm going to work in the Riigikogu, but my heart will still be here [in Mustamäe]. No matter how far away I am, I will still think: My district, my Mustamäe," he said.

Mustamäe, once a village and now a leafy "sleeping district" dominated by Soviet-era apartment blocks and also newer builds, and an area popular with students and which hosts several tech startups and academic faculties, lies around 5 km from the Rigiikogu.

It is one of seven districts Tallinn municipality is divided up into.

The move across town may not mean he won't be back in Mustamäe at some time in the future, Laats went on.

"Since history has a habit of repeating itself, we'll probably meet again, at the next curve in the road," he added.

Laats polled at just under 6,000 votes in electoral district no. 3,  Mustamäe and Nõmme districts of Tallinn (the electoral districts in Tallinn differ from the administrative districts), thereby winning a seat.

While he had also won a seat in 2019, he opted to take up the district elder position that time – municipal government officials may not simultaneously hold Riigikogu seats.

Laats also joins Tanel Kiik, currently a Tallinn deputy mayor and a former health minister, in opting to sit at the Riigikogu rather than remain in the city administration.

Whereas Kiik is a former advisor to Center's current leader, and Riigikogu speaker, Jüri Ratas, Laats has stated that he would back a leadership challenge which looks set to be mounted from Tallinn Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart.

Center has 16 Riigikogu seats following the March 5 election.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mari Peegel

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