Lauri Hussar, who announced on Monday that he was stepping down as chair of Eesti 200, said that there are several strong candidates among the party's leadership and Riigikogu group, who could succeed him in the role.
On ETV show "Terevisioon," Hussar was asked whether his successor as party chair could be current Minister of Foreign Affairs Margus Tsahkna or Minister of Education Kristina Kallas, the latter having led the party in the past. He responded that there are a number of strong candidates in the party for the role, and mentioned Hendrik Terras, Igor Taro and Liisa Pakosta by name.
However, Hussar, did not reveal his personal preference to the public.
Reflecting on his time as leader, Hussar said that the mood in the party remains upbeat. He added, that his biggest achievements since entering the Riigikogu had been the elimination of marital inequality and the development of the concept of a strong personalized state.
"In general, I dare say, that Eesti 200 has developed very strongly, we have opened several departments," said Hussar, adding that it is precisely because of this rapid development that the organization requires a lot of time and commitment.
The biggest drawback, he said, was that he had not had enough time to communicate with the party's sub-organizations in addition to his work as Riigikogu Speaker.
Hussar pointed to the recent filibuster, which obstructed the Riigikogu's work, as the main reason why he had opted to continue as Riigikogu speaker rather than party leader, as this had caused significantly more responsibilities for the former than before.
In addition, the time needed to represent the Riigikogu outside the parliament building and for external relations, is considerable. "The situation is tense and we need to focus on that."
Commenting on Eesti 200's low ratings (the party had seven percent support during a Kantar Emor survey conducted in recent months – ed.), Hussar said that when he became leader of the party, their rating was just two percent. However, he added that the party has had a successful Riigikogu election campaign since then.
"The party's ratings have been quite stable over the last month and a half. We know from this, who our permanent voters are, and we know what we need to do in the future to raise the party's ratings. Eesti 200's ratings have also been volatile throughout, they have not been permanently anchored in one place. But, in recent months it has stayed in one place – at six, seven, eight percent," Hussar said.
On Tuesday morning, Eesti 200 board member Kalev Stoicescu said on radio show "Vikerhommik," that Hussar's announcement had come as a surprise during the party's board meeting on Monday. "But, that is his decision and I think it's the right decision," Stoicescu said.
Stoicescu himself does not plan to run for party chair, adding that he believes there are at least two strong candidates for the role. "And, whoever gets the most votes will be the new party chair," Stoicescu said, without mentioning specific names.
Editor: Michael Cole
Source: Terevisioon" interviewer Reimo Sildvee; "Vikerhommik," interviewers Kirke Ert and Taavi Libe