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No second deputy chair elected to Tallinn City Council after EKRE go solo

Sander Andla.
Sander Andla. Source: Helen Kattai

No second deputy chair has been elected to the Tallinn City Council as none of the opposition candidates obtained the required minimum number of votes. According to Reform Party candidate Sander Andla, the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) councilors backed out of a prior agreement to give him their votes.

While at least 40 votes were needed to attain the position of council deputy chair, Reform candidate Sander Andla received just 29. EKRE's Mart Kallas, who was also in the running, collected 15. 30 councilors did not vote or submitted blank or spoiled ballots.

The position of second deputy chair on the Tallinn City Council belongs to the opposition in the city. It is currently held by the Reform Party's Kristen Michel, who has now taken up the position of Minister of Climate in the new government. As Michal is unable to occupy both roles, a new council deputy chair is needed, with Reform opting to nominate Sander Andla for the position.

However, EKRE also put forward their own candidate, Mart Kallas, the group's chair on the city council. As a result, opposition votes were split between Andla and Kallas, meaning neither candidate collected sufficient votes to get over the required threshold.

"A new election was not held on Thursday because the results would have been the same. At the next regular session in two weeks' time, the council will meet again and try once more to find another deputy chair," said EKRE in a press release.

According to Andla, EKRE had gone back on an earlier agreement to vote for him as the new second deputy chair. At a meeting of the four opposition groups in the council, Reform, Eesti 200, EKRE and Isamaa, it was agreed that the Reform Party would retain the second deputy chair seat. In return, the deputy chair positions on the council's four committees would be split between the other opposition parties, with two going to EKRE and one each for Isamaa and Eesti 200.

Andla said that he had been in contact with representatives of Isamaa and Eesti 200 before the council meeting, both of whom had promised to follow through on what had been agreed. "The only one who didn't respect the decision was EKRE, and that gives you an idea of what they think," he said.

Andla added, that since Mart Kallas got 15 votes and EKRE has only seven council members, one can only guess where the other eight votes came from. "There is no reason to suggest that Eesti 200 and Isamaa did not respect the agreement, and it is hard to believe that the Social Democrats voted for EKRE," he said. The only possibility that leaves, is that some Center Party councilors also voted for Kallas.

According to Andla, the opposition groups will meet again on Friday to discuss the situation. The council's next attempt to elect a second deputy chair is likely to be in a months' time, meaning the position will remain vacant until at least then.

Jürgenson elected first deputy chair

The council was also tasked with electing a new  first deputy chair at the meeting after Tiit Terik (Center) was confirmed as a Tallinn deputy mayor. Marek Jürgenson was nominated by the Center Party, with his candidacy then confirmed by the council.

The council also granted Jürgenson compensation equivalent to 50 percent of the salary of a full-time deputy councilor.

The salary for the role of Tallinn Council deputy chair is the same as that of Tallinn's deputy mayors, As of April 1 2023, the amount is €7,012 per month before tax. Jürgenson will therefore receive a pre-tax monthly allowance of €3,006.

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Editor: Michael Cole

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