Center vice-chair: No more than around 50 members will quit the party

Jaan Toots on Wednesday's edition of
Jaan Toots on Wednesday's edition of "Otse uudistemajast".

The election of a new party leader is always followed by an exodus of members, Center Party Vice-Chair Jaan Toots says, and last weekend's election of Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart, to replace Jüri Ratas, whose term ended, is no exception.

Toots puts the total figure of those likely to leave at around 50.

Over 30 Center members had as of Monday evening quit the party since the election of Mihhail Kõlvart as leader on Sunday, a figure which has not risen much since then, Toots said, speaking to ERR webcast "Otse uudistemajast" Wednesday.

Toots said the number could top out at 50, noting that when Edgar Savisaar was elected party leader in the 1990s, significant numbers of people left the party also.

At the same time, this should be balanced by people now wanting to join the party, he said.

As to characterizing the typical Center Party voter, Toots said that these were usually not young, though among the more senior citizens in society, the party's support was as high as around 50 percent.

The party lacks support from the 35-50 age bracket, he added.

Toots backed new leader Mihhail Kõlvart in the run-off election against Tanel Kiik on Sunday, calling him a balanced, long-term leader who considers his decisions carefully.

There will be only minor ideological changes to the party's platform, which will be  "not particularly liberal, has tended to be the case in recent years," Toots said.

Recouping the prime ministerial position, as Center had under Jüri Ratas 2016-2021, would be challenging, he noted.

"We have to face facts – the party's support stands at around 17 percent. We are certainly waiting to see what [Kõlvart's] initial steps will be. We will try to do everything to reduce tensions; calming down the party, holding it together, but I think that Kõlvart and his team will be the ones to achieve that, beautifully."

The protection of low-paid workers and pensioners are among key goals for the party, while another area Toots brought out was Center's former hostility to the e-vote.

Toots called it "incomprehensible" why the e-voting period lasts a week, when it could instead last one day. The current system can permit manipulation of votes, for instance if an old person who is not sufficiently tech-savvy to cast an e-vote on their own is "shown how to do so," by an acquaintance or family member, Toots said.

For himself, Toots ruled out a European Parliament bid – those elections take place next June – but would relish a ministerial position at home, should one ever come up.

Better unity in Tartu, where the party had been strife-torn, is a goal for the 2025 local elections he went on; Toots had headed Center's Tartu branch.


Follow ERR News on Facebook and Twitter and never miss an update!

Editor: Andrew Whyte, Marko Tooming

Source: 'Otse uudistemajast,' interviewer Aleksander Krjukov.

Hea lugeja, näeme et kasutate vanemat brauseri versiooni või vähelevinud brauserit.

Parema ja terviklikuma kasutajakogemuse tagamiseks soovitame alla laadida uusim versioon mõnest meie toetatud brauserist: