Former Prime Minister, Center Party head Jüri Ratas said on the "Terevisioon" morning show Monday, following several well-known party members quitting the opposition force last week, that while he remains a Center member for the time being, he has some thinking to do in terms of what the future holds.
Ratas agreed with the host's suggestion that Center is at risk of becoming a Russian minority party in Estonia and one that focuses narrowly on the capital Tallinn, following its recent change of leadership and several high-profile members leaving.
That is why the former party leader wants to meet with a number of fellow Centrists in the coming weeks to talk about whether the party will have a seat at the table of Estonian politics in the future.
Asked whether he would also consider joining the Social Democrats (as four out of six Center MPs who quit the party have done – ed.) Ratas said that he sees himself in Center for the moment.
But the Riigikogu vice president also said that he plans to stay active in politics. "Giving you three drops of blood in terms of where I'll be a month, two months or three from now... As you can see, things are happening at breakneck speed. I do not want to quit the Center Party first thing. I feel responsible as former chairman and, frankly, it would be quite difficult for me to leave, personally."
Ratas said that his work in the parliament is his main focus today but also that he does not see himself running in the same European Parliament elections list with fellow Center member, MEP Yana Toom. "That will not happen. It is difficult to say how Center's list of candidates will turn out by early June in today's turbulent situation," Ratas remarked.
The politician recently criticized Toom for her continued efforts to help pro-Kremlin activists some of whom have been expelled from Estonia.
He said that he does not see eye to eye with Toom when it comes to matters of mentality on the Estonia-Russia axis. "Those are the things I find disagreeable, whereas the pattern keeps repeating itself." Ratas said that while Center's platform remains the same, the question of why are people leaving needs to be asked. "The question is whether I still have faith that the party can remain relevant in politics, that I can represent its values and help people in its ranks. And I believe a lot of people have lost that faith today."
Editor: Mirjam Mäekivi, Marcus Turovski