Mihhail Kõlvart, mayor of Tallinn and head of the Center Party, said that he tried to convince Jüri Ratas not to leave the opposition party until the last minute. Kõlvart added that [European Commissioner] Kadri Simson has assured him she does not plan to quit Center.
"It did not come as news to us. Despite efforts to find common ground, we knew of parallel negotiations for months. Rather, the question was where he would go instead of whether he would leave," Kõlvart admitted.
Kõlvart said that he was still trying to convince Ratas to stick with Center last week.
The party leader added that he was aware of Ratas' ongoing negotiations with both the Social Democratic Party and Isamaa. Kõlvart suggested Ratas may have opted for Isamaa also because Center and Isamaa were in the same coalition.
ERR reporter Madis Hindre asked Kõlvart whether Center's weakened position in the Tallinn City Council might at some point force him to hand over the key to the city.
"There is hardly anything new about that situation either. Relevant discussions have been going on for months. We are still prepared to work with the Social Democrats. And as far as I know, our partner is still willing to work with us," the mayor replied.
"That said, if someone thinks that Tallinn should be ruled by a different coalition and has the votes to make it happen, there's not much to talk about," he remarked.
Kõlvart admitted that because Ratas was quite influential in Center as its former chairman, more people leaving in his wake cannot be ruled out.
"Every departing member constitutes a crisis for the party. But we can move on calmly after today's decision. There is no more intrigue. Everyone who has wished to go has done so," Mihhail Kõlvart said.
He also recently met with European Commissioner and Center member Kadri Simson. "She told me that while she is critical of processes [inside the party], she is not planning to quit. That is what I will be basing my actions on," Kõlvart said.
Following the election of Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõvart as Center chair in September, several prominent MPs including former ministers have left the party, mostly to join the Social Democrats (SDE) and Isamaa, with one joining Reform, and two others now sitting as independents.
Editor: Aleksander Krjukov