Gallery: Urmas Reinsalu elected new Isamaa leader

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Former foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu has been elected new chair of opposition party Isamaa, by a wide margin.

The meeting in Tallinn which saw Reinsalu elected was one of two to take place in Estonia on Saturday, as another opposition party, EKRE, also returned Martin Helme as leader.

Reinsalu, 47, was chair of Isamaa's forerunner, IRL, 2012-2015, and picked up 415 votes at Saturday's Isamaa congress. Former education minister Tõnis Lukas polled at 180 votes, and the third runner, former justice minister Lea Danilson-Järg, who threw he hat into the ring comparatively late on, picked up 51 votes.

Reinsalu and Lukas had been seen by some critics as too much a part of the Isamaa old guard, though this did not seem to harm the new leader's performance on the day.

Reinsalu replaces Helir-Valdor Seeder, who announced last month he would not be seeking reelection.

Reinsalu told ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) that the party he now leads opposes tax hikes, cumbersome bureaucracy, restrictions on freedom of speech, additional quotas and restrictions, and "imported cultural wars."

He said: "We are a trustworthy, yet dignified political party. People who look at today's government with displeasure and disapproval, there is now a positive alternative for them, and that alternative is Isamaa. Attempts were made to cancel us during the Riigikogu elections; now, this is being done to the policies of our party, but my message is this: Isamaa is not going anywhere."

The party also elected its board members, court of honor and several other positions at Saturday's meeting.

The meeting began with a speech from outgoing leader Seeder, followed by speeches from the three leadership candidates.

Voting took place at 1 p.m. and ended at 2 p.m.

A second run-off between the two most popular candidates could have happened later on Saturday, but in the event was not needed, given the landslide Reinsalu accrued.

Lea Danilson-Järg received some consolation by being elected to the party's board.

The newly elected board members, with number of votes for each candidate in brackets, is: Aivar Kokk (132 votes), Riho Terras (132), Mart Maastik (126), Riina Solman (125), Karl Sander Kase (121), Priit Sibul (120), Tarmo Kruusimäe (115), Kaspar Kokk (111), Gerry Konnov (106), Mihhail Lotman (103), Üllar Saaremäe (103), Heiki Hepner (102), Tõnis Palts (101), Andres Metsoja (100), Marja-Liisa Veiser (99), Sven Sester (96), Lea Danilson-Järg (90), Priit Humal (81), Harri Juhani Aaltonen (69) ja Ründo Mülts (69).

The party's court of honor now comprises: Vahur Jaakma, Mari-Ann Kelam, Gerly Lehtmets, Meelis Liivlaid, Andres Luus, Erik Sandla, Andi Tubin, Rain Veetõusme and Avo Üprus.

Reinsalu was foreign minister over two stints, April 2019-January 2021 and again June 2022 to April this year. He is also a former justice minister. He now sits in the Riigikogu as an MP.

This article was updated to include quotes from new Isamaa leader Urmas Reinsalu.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Marko Tooming, Mait Ots

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