Kõlvart: I am ready to become leader of the Center Party

Mihhail Kõlvart
Mihhail Kõlvart Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The vice-chairman of the Center Party and Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart said on Friday that he is ready to run for chairman and considers former Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik a strong competitor.

Kõlvart thanked Chairman Jüri Ratas, who this afternoon said he would not seek reelection, for his work as party leader since 2016.

"Despite the fact that we have had our differences, a person who has contributed so much must be recognized," Kõlvart said.

A new leader will likely be elected at an extraordinary party congress in the coming months, but a date has not yet been set.

The idea for a congress was initially proposed by Kõlvart earlier this year after the election in March, which saw Center lose seats, but at that time it was vetoed by other members.

Jüri Ratas and Tanel Kiik at the Center Party Congress on August 22, 2020. Source: Siim Lõvi / ERR

"[But] now a different situation has arisen, and it seems to me that it is understood within the party that this is needed, it is likely to happen," said Kõlvart.

Several senior members of the party, including Ratas, have already said they will support Tanel Kiik's candidacy. Kõlvart said he is glad Kiik will run.

"I think Tanel is a very strong candidate, so there will be a substantive discussion between the candidates. The sooner we start discussing substantive things, the sooner we have a constructive atmosphere, the better," he said.

The mayor of Tallinn's ambitions have not come as a surprise as he announced he wanted to stand for chairman in the spring.

"I am ready to take on this responsibility if my party colleagues trust me to do so," Kõlvart said.

Center Party's office. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

He said he has not yet asked for members' support or organized a campaign as a leadership election was not foreseen this year. The party has not yet agreed to hold a meeting.

"If there is a congress, I am ready to run," he said.

Kõlvart did not want to comment on why party members should choose him over Kiik.

"We will start debating on different topics and the party members will decide based on that," he said.


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Editor: Barbara Oja, Helen Wright

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