Several noteworthy Reform politicians not running for party's board

A Reform Party board meeting in progress.
A Reform Party board meeting in progress. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Several high-profile Reform members are not seeking election to to the party's board. The results of these elections and the new board make-up will be announced at a party congress on Saturday.

Incumbent leader and prime minister Kaja Kallas is the sole candidate for party chair, with the vote ongoing, electronically, this week, and the results to be announced at Saturday's meeting.

The voting also concerns the new composition of the party board, which comprises 15 members, along with the chair and two vice-chairs.

Three of the current board, elected in 2020, are stepping down; 35 people are seeking election.

Noteworthy is some of the top names who are not running for the board.

These include current Minister of Culture Heidy Purga, MEP and former prime minister Andrus Ansip, and former education minister Liina Kersna.

Ansip, prime minister 2005 to 2014, has recently issued criticism of the party's management, while Purga said that she wishes to focus primarily on her ministerial work.

Kersna told ERR that she currently devotes all her spare time to her doctoral studies at the University of Tartu, in addition to being a sitting MP, the latter work she described as "stressful."

In Estonian politics, significant figures are often described as "famous," with such candidates often running in elections as potential vote magnets.

One such Reform MP, Karmen Joller, a doctor, came to prominence during the Covid pandemic, going on to win a seat at the March Riigikogu election.

However, Dr. Joller said that she is still relatively green so far as politics goes, and is not in a position to take on any additional responsibilities at this moment.

"I feel that I have a lot to learn before I start taking a party leadership position, via the board. Right now, being elected to the party board is not one of my ambitions," she said.

At the other end of the experience spectrum, seasoned Reformist and Saaremaa council chair Jaanus Tamkivi is stepping down, saying that he has sat on the board for long enough now.

"The maximum should be 17 or 18 years. I have been there enough, so let's let others do so. One single individual does not have to be there for a very long period of time," he went on.

Also stepping down from the board once the current composition's powers expire, are Urve Tiidus, Maido Ruusmann and Maris Toomel.

Toomel, Mayor of Jõhvi, Ida-Viru County, said that municipal work takes up, and requires, the bulk of her time.

Among completely new names running are economist and banker Viljar Jaamu, 24-year-old MP Hanah Lahe, and fashion designer Oksana Tandit.

The party's board consists of 15 members, along with two vice-chairs, plus the party chair.

Seeking election are (members of the outgoing board in bold): Former finance minister Annely Akkermann, MP Yoko Alender, businessman Andres Aro, Viljar Jaamu, MP Mario Kadastik, Erkki Keldo – an MP and the party's chief whip at the Riigikogu, academic Liis Klaar, Mayor of Tartu Urmas Klaas, veteran MP Eerik-Niiles Kross, former rural affairs minister Urmas Kruuse, Minister of Justice Kalle Laanet, Hanah Lahe, former justice minister Maris Lauri, accountant Evelin Lehtsaar, former finance minister Jürgen Ligi, Minister of Climate Kristen Michal, foreign affairs committee chair Marko Mihkelson, Kaupo Nõlvak, MEP Urmas Paet, Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur, MP Õnne Pillak, Minister of Social Protection Signe Riisalo, MP Pipi-Liis Siemann, MP and finance committee member Aivar Sõerd, former IT and foreign trade minister Andres Sutt, designer Oksana Tandit, businessman Kalle Toomet, Minister of Finance Mart Võrklaev.

Additionally, Reform's statutes requires three board members be elected from the regions – one each from Northern, Western and Southern Estonia.

The candidates for the Northern region are MP Katrin Kuusemäe, Kait Kadajamägi and Maarja Metstak. The candidates for the Western region are Irina Talviste and Aivar Viidik.  One candidate is running for the Southern region: Mayor of Viljandi Madis Timpson.

The Reform Party congress is being held on Saturday, and e-voting opened last Thursday and ends today, November 16.

The results will be announced at Saturday's meeting.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Aleksander Krjukov

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