Other parties skeptical of good rapport with either Kõlvart or Kiik

Mihhail Kõlvart and Tanel Kiik.
Mihhail Kõlvart and Tanel Kiik. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Mihhail Kõlvart and Tanel Kiik will be running for the post of Center Party chairman this August. Representatives of other parliamentary parties believe it would be very difficult for them to work with Kõlvart, who has been accused of being pro-Kremlin, while most have also not warmed up to Kiik.

Urmas Reinsalu, chairman of the opposition Isamaa party, said that it is easier for him to imagine working with Tanel Kiik than Mihhail Kõlvart.

"There are serious questions in the air regarding [Tallinn Mayor] Mihhail Kõlvart. [Current Center leader] Jüri Ratas was very clear in condemning Kõlvart ally Yana Toom's recent Saint Petersburg visit where she demonstratively met with a Kremlin influence agent who has previously been expelled from Estonia. I would very much like to hear where Kõlvart stands on this matter. I also recall him urging people to celebrate May 9 last year. There are many such questions concerning Kõlvart, particularly when it comes to Russia policy," Reinsalu said.

Jaak Valge, member of the board of the opposition EKRE, also said that it would be difficult to work with either Kõlvart or Kiik.

"Neither possibility favors us. To imagine Mihhail Kõlvart taking control of Center, the first thing we should do would be to urge Estonians and Estonian residents to quit the party and join the national conservatives instead. As a patriotic party, we find it difficult to even imagine a combination of multicultural and pro-Kremlin sentiment. Center under Tanel Kiik would make for a tricky partner because it would have no conservative elements," Valge remarked.

Jürgen Ligi, deputy chair of the ruling Reform Party, described Kõlvart and Kiik as equally poor options when it comes to potential cooperation.

"We are not looking in Center's direction as we already have a coalition. But it is hard to distinguish between the two candidates one of whom has traditionally looked east and the other to EKREIKE (former coalition between EKRE, Isamaa and Center — ed.). Geopolitically speaking, it amounts to the same thing from where we're standing. It is easy to say that Kõlvart is not a good fit, while Tanel Kiik painted himself as a fanatical EKREIKE soldier in spring, which is to suggest we do not harbor any illusions regarding either candidate."

SDE deputy head Riina Sikkut suggested that the two candidates pose different challenges.

"On the one hand, you have Tanel Kiik who joined EKRE in filibustering this spring and has given joint press conferences with Martin Helme. He needs to prove that Center is not the path EKRE can keep taking to come to power. Kõlvart's challenge is different. How to effectively ward off criticism of being pro-Russia if Yana Toom keeps visiting expelled persons in Russia?"

Züleyxa Izmailova, member of the board of Eesti 200, said that it is too early to speculate as concerns either candidate.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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