Two of the three opposition parties in Estonia – the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and Isamaa – are to elect new party chairs this weekend. In the case of Isamaa, whoever is elected will be a brand new leader, since current leader Helir-Valdor Seeder is standing down.
Two candidates are running for the EKRE chair, three for that of Isamaa.
Both parties will also elect their management boards at the meetings, which both take place tomorrow, Saturday.
EKRE's two leadership candidates are current incumbent Martin Helme, and MP Peeter Ernits – the latter only throwing his hat into the ring at the last minute, on Monday this week.
Ernits told ERR that in running, his focus would be on how the party is managed, and as leader, if elected, he would focus on organization problems. He gave the example of the expulsion of various party members, which he says had not been right.
Helme became leader in July 2020, replacing his father, party co-founder Mart Helme.
In addition to the leader post, Saturday's EKRE congress will see three deputy leaders and 11 board members elected.
Of the former, the three existing deputy leaders are seeking reelection, namely Mart Helme, Henn Põlluaas and the party's sole MEP, Jaak Madison, while former rural affairs minister Arvo Aller and former ERR supervisory board member Urmas Reitelmann are also running.
Thirty-four candidates are running for the 11 board member positions; from the current board members, former MP Merry Aart and Kalle Grünthal (still an MP) are not seeking reelection.
Others running include Estonian-American Mike Calamus, former environment minister Rain Epler, and MPs Helle-Moonika Helme, Siim Pohlak, Jaak Valge and Anti Poolamets.
The EKRE meeting takes place in the Pärnu Concert Hall; the new leader is likely to be confirmed by around 2.30 p.m.
Helir-Valdor Seeder not running for Isamaa board either.
Meanwhile Isamaa's meeting on Saturday is likely to see more changes rung, since not only is current leader Helir-Valdor Seeder not running for reelection to that position, as announced last month, but also Seeder will not be running for the party's board.
The three candidates in the hunt are former education minister Tõnis Lukas, former foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu, and former justice minister Lea Danilson-Järg.
Danilson-Järg announced her candidacy later than Lukas and Reinsalu had, stating that the party requires renewal.
Lukas was vice-chair of Isamaa, or IRL as it was known then, 2007-2013; Reinsalu was chair 2012-2015.
Isamaa will also elect its management board on Saturday – the meeting to be held at the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds – and of the three leadership candidates, Danilson-Järg is also running for the board.
As to Seeder's reasons for not running for the party's board, the outgoing leader told ERR that two candidates from Viljandi County – Harri Juhani Aaltonen is the other and currently sits on the board – would be too many.
"I can influence Isamaa politics even without being a board member," Seeder, who will remain an MP, added.
Of the current board composition, Viktoria Ladõnskaja-Kubits and Helen Hääl are not running.
Other prominent candidates include former ministers Riina Solman and Sven Sester, the party's Riigikogu chief whip Priit Sibul, and former Riigikogu finance committee chair Aivar Kokk.
The all-new Isamaa leader will be known either some time after 3 p.m. Saturday, if only one round of voting is needed, or at around 7.30 p.m., if a second round run-off is required. This all depends on how voting goes for the three candidates running.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Marko Tooming