Kõlvart: I would have resigned in Ratas' position

Mihhail Kõlvart and Jüri Ratas at the Center Party's 19th party congress in Tartu on Saturday. August 13, 2022.
Mihhail Kõlvart and Jüri Ratas at the Center Party's 19th party congress in Tartu on Saturday. August 13, 2022. Source: Grete Huik

According to Center Party leader Jüri Ratas, callis for an extraordinary congress have caused some confusion among party members. Tallinn Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart, who is running for the position of party chair, says, that if he were in Ratas' position, he would have stepped down following Center's poor results in the recent Riigikogu elections.

Center Party leader Jüri Ratas said, that he plans to meet with leaders of the party's regional branches, for whom the proposed extraordinary party congress has raised a number of questions.

"There is quite a lot of confusion as to why this extraordinary congress is needed. I have said that, if it is wanted, I don't think that now is the right time. However, if it is wanted, then we will organize an extraordinary congress," he said.

The Center Party won just 16 seats in this month's Riigikogu elections, 10 fewer than in 2019. Tallinn Mayor Mihhail  Kõlvart has said, that if he were party leader, he would have resigned under such circumstances.

"If I had to decide, then yes, I would have resigned in this situation. But that doesn't mean Jüri should have to make that same decision. It is his decision and also that of the party," Kõlvart said.

Kõlvart added, that there are quite a few members of the Center Party, who believe an extraordinary congress is necessary. He also said, that he wants to meet with Center's regional leaders himself.

Whether or not the Center Party does hold an extraordinary congress in the summer is due to be decided by the party board during an extended meeting on April 15. Kõlvart has already said, that he intends to run for party chair, while Ratas is yet to make a decision about his own future.

"I will tell my party colleagues at the latest on April 15, when the party's board meeting is in session," Ratas said.

Kõlvart, however, has no doubt that Ratas will be looking to extend his spell as party leader.

"Since (Ratas) said that there is no need for an extraordinary congress, that would imply continuing in the same way (as before). That in turn means (continuing) with the current party leader. Maybe if the current chair wants to continue, then he first has to win over the congress," Kõlvart said.

According to Ratas, the tensions among the party leadership are likely to have an impact on Center's Riigikogu group, which is due to start work soon. Ratas believes, there is potential for things to get heated, particularly when it comes to electing the Riigikogu group's leaders.

Kõlvart however, said, that some competition within the Center Party is a good thing. Nevertheless, he remains aware, that the party needs to stay united when debating against its political opponents.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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