Isamaa MP and former government minister Tõnis Lukas has declared his intention to run for party leader, and has started the process of amassing support to that end.
The current Isamaa chair, Helir-Valdor Seeder, announced Tuesday that he would not seek re-election as chair at the party's general meeting next month. Seeder has been leader since 2017.
Tõnis Lukas, who was education minister in the Reform-SDE-Isamaa coalition, in office July 2022 to April this year, is the first Isamaa member to throw their hat into the ring in relation to the leadership post, and noted on his social media account that: "I have decided to start collecting support in a bid for the chairmanship of Isamaa.
"I thank Helir-Valdor Seeder for his clear formulation of the party's policy and for the success in all negotiations. Estonia needs patriotism. We will not give away a single inch of our country, and will forever stand for the preservation of the Estonian nation, language and culture," Lukas went on.
Lukas added that the party's activities are based on its unshakeable values, while the country's wealth rests on entrepreneurs – meaning business, economic and tax stability is vital for everyone in Estonia.
The party's vice-chair, former minister Riina Solman, ruled herself out of a bid Tuesday evening, listing Lukas, former foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu, the party's sole MEP, Riho Terras, and sitting MP Mart Maastik as viable candidates
The party's secretary general and Riigikogu chief whip Priit Sibul has not ruled himself in or out as thing stand.
Lukas, 60, was chair of Isamaaliit ahead of its merger with Res Publica, when the present-day Isamaa (originally called IRL) was formed, and was vice-chair of the party 2007-2013.
He has held several ministerial posts, mostly the education portfolio, while he was culture minister 2019-2021 in the Center-EKRE-Isamaa coalition.
His resume also includes a stint as mayor of Tartu, in the 1990s, and as head of the national museum (ERM).
Isamaa's seat tally dropped from 12 at the XIV Riigikogu to eight, one woman and seven men, at the March 5 election to the XV Riigikogu, though Lukas was one of those who did win a seat.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Urmet Kook