Calling a Center Party congress, on an extraordinary basis, to elect a new leader in August would be too hasty of a move, Tallinn Deputy Mayor Tiit Terik says. Terik has joined several other leading Center Party members in an appeal to that effect and to postpone the planned congress to September at the earliest.
Terik, a former culture minister and current head of Center's Nõmme district (Tallinn) branch, said that holding the off-schedule congress, which would deal with the election of the next party leader and also the entire board, to September, would be more sensible.
He said: "Our concern is that, ahead of the congress, as per procedure, the regional branches will meet with their board, select their delegates, meet with these, and then are given the opportunity to nominate different candidates for the party's governing organs."
"Purely based on long-term experience and knowledge of the work a regional leader faces, I see that this period, or five the week until the day of the congress is so short that it is very difficult to deal with all these things during the summer period," said Terik to ERR.
"Our proposal is to hold the congress, for example, a month later, so that all these necessary procedures can be carried out in the provinces within a reasonable time-frame," he continued.
ERR asked Terik whether the same can be said for the supporters of Mihhail Kõlvart, mayor of Tallinn and one of two leadership challengers – current incumbent Jüri Ratas has endorsed Tanel Kiik as his successor.
Terik answered that: "I wouldn't want to draw any lines here, just that there is a practical necessity, which in my opinion would give us more time for preparations than would be the case in terms of one month."
"But in general, I don't believe in appealing in that way, and I wouldn't look for the support of two candidates who are, as it were, conditionally competing very strongly on this," Terik continued.
At the time of writing, Jüri Ratas has proposed holding the congress on August 19, in Paide, a central location in Estonia – Terik supported the choice of venue, at least, adding that such matters need not always be Tallinn-based.
Ahead of that, a party board meeting is scheduled for July 22 in Põltsamaa, Jõgeva County.
News portal Delfi reports (link in Estonian) that an appeal from several regional Center Party chairs calls for postponing the proposed congress beyond September.
The signatories, in addition to Terik, were: Mihkel Undrest (Saaremaa), Monika Haukanõmm (city center), Jaanus Riibe (Kristiine), Jaan Toots (Tartu), Enno Tamm (Tallinn Pirita), Andrei Korobeinik (Pärnu), Lauri Laats (Mustamäe),
Vadim Belobrovtsev (North Tallinn), Tarmo Tammiste (Narva), Vladimir Svet (Lasnamäe), Marek Jürgenson (Haabersti), Siret Kotka (Tallinn Haabersti).
Center's poor showing at the March 5 Riigikogu election was followed by calls for a change in leadership and a challenge from Mihhail Kõlvart which, while Jüri Ratas was able to temporarily head off, reemerged last week.
Tanel Kiik, a former health minister, then also announced he was running for the post.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Aleksander Krjukov
Source: ERR Radio News, interviewer Johannes Voltri.