Lukas resigns over Isamaa election result, Seeder on the fence
Deputy head of the Isamaa party Tõnis Lukas said he will resign from his position in light of the party's election result in Tartu. Party leader Helir-Valdor Seeder said he hasn't decided yet whether to run for chairman again in two months' time.
"We are used to Tartu being Isamaa's fortress, while the party's election result was less than it could have been here. That is why I have decided to take responsibility as deputy chairman. A poor showing in the deputy chairman's region requires a reaction," Lukas told ERR.
The politician suggested the move was motivated purely by the party's Tartu election result and refused to add whether he expects his fellow deputy chairs Urmas Reinsalu and Riina Solman, as well as party leader Helir-Valdor Seeder, to resign too.
Lukas remarked that the party will now have to analyze its election result and draw conclusions.
Helir-Valdor Seeder said that Isamaa will elect its new chairmen and board at its general assembly to be held two months from now.
He said he has not yet decided whether to run again. "I have not made that decision yet as there's still time. The party's council will first have to set a date for the general assembly, set the agenda and make other relevant decisions. I will make the decision following the council meeting," Seeder said.
Asked whether he believes other candidates besides Seeder should be set up, Tõnis Lukas suggested that Isamaa has several experienced leaders, which is why competition would not be surprising.
He also said that Isamaa needs to attract more young people and women. "We need to urge people who support patriotism and non-reactionary conservatism to join the party. We must once more become a force without which Estonian politics doesn't work," Lukas said.
Isamaa failed to explain good policies
Lukas suggested that Isamaa's poor showing at the March 5 elections (winning eight seats in the 101-member Riigikogu and losing four mandates compared to the previous elections – ed.) was due to the party failing to showcase their "good" policies and react to opponents' efforts.
"Conservative and patriotic people have not taken to EKRE's (Conservative People's Party) aggressive bawling, and tying us to that bandwagon was a tactic pursued by the Reform Party and our other competition. It was violent but effective. Yes, many decided against voting for us out of fear we would help EKRE come to power in Estonia," Lukas said.
"The other reason was that an agitation squad called SALK (the Liberal Citizen Foundation – ed.) suggested that Isamaa in particular seems bent on keeping women from working and the labor marker, which is a complete lie," Lukas added.
Coalition with EKRE necessary for keeping core election promises
Both Lukas and Seeder told ERR that Isamaa's effort to distance itself from EKRE did not come about overnight but really started when it decided to join Reform and SDE instead of EKRE and Center in the outgoing coalition.
"We made our choice of coalition last summer. We decided to go with Reform and SDE. We did not pick EKRE and Center. We have made that choice. We did not distance ourselves [from EKRE] at the last moment and rather made a conscious choice. We are still part of a Reform Party government today. Therefore, we are not EKRE's hostages," Lukas offered.
Helir-Valdor Seeder said that Isamaa joined EKRE and the Center Party in a coalition in 2019, mainly because it allowed carrying out parts of Isamaa's program.
"That was the reason why we joined that coalition in 2019. To get done the pension reform and other things that would not have worked in different governments. It was not out of love for EKRE or Center," Seeder suggested.
Seeder was reluctant to say who Isamaa would back for the post of second Riigikogu vice president – Center leader Jüri Ratas or EKRE head Martin Helme. He added that the party hasn't discussed it yet.
The post of second Riigikogu vice president has traditionally gone to the largest opposition force. EKRE landed 17 seats in the new parliament, Center 16 and Isamaa eight.
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Editor: Marcus Turovski