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Iva vs Seeder: IRL’s chairmanship candidates

Minister of Social Protection Kaia Iva (IRL) in the opinion of many would have the best chances to drag the party out of its current low.
Minister of Social Protection Kaia Iva (IRL) in the opinion of many would have the best chances to drag the party out of its current low. Source: (Siim Lõvi/ERR)

With IRL’s extraordinary congress coming closer, the two candidates for the party’s chairmanship are positioning themselves for the internal elections. Though both are staunch conservatives, their opinions differ on the Registered Partnership Act as well as the Estonian-Russian border treaty.

There are currently two candidates for IRL’s chairmanship. Minister of Social Protection Kaia Iva announced her intention to run on Apr. 12, and deputy president of the Riigikogu, Helir-Valdor Seeder, followed on Apr. 16. Though both are essentially conservative in their views, there is a difference. While Iva is seen as more liberal, and having a broader appeal to voters, Seeder is a value-conservative politician, who has already said that he disagrees both with the Estonian-Russian border treaty and the Registered Partnership Act.

In an interview with ERR on Monday, Iva said that she wouldn’t repeal the Registered Partnership Act, but that she wasn’t interested in expediting its implementing provisions either. Grown-up citizens were able to make their own decisions, it wasn’t the state’s business to interfere. Asked directly, Iva said that she was against allowing same-sex couples to marry.

Where Iva would be cautious, Seeder makes perfectly clear what he thinks about the issue. “The implementing provisions certainly wouldn’t need to be adopted, and the Registered Partnership Act in its current form should be repealed,” Seeder told daily Päevaleht in an interview. “First of all because they would create great legal confusion.” Seeder said that he couldn’t remember any other time when the debate surrounding a bill had led to similar tensions in parliament.

“The quality of the Registered Partnership Act can’t withstand criticism. So I don’t think adopting it is right,” Seeder added.

Seeder also opposes the ratification of the Estonian-Russian border treaty. “I’m still of the opinion that in this form the border treaty, without any other problems solved, like I pointed out back then as well, is neither in the interest of Estonoa’s economy nor its security,” Seeder told Päevaleht.

Iva disagrees. The treaty should be ratified once the international situation and relationships were restored in a way that the issue could be discussed again, Iva told ERR on Monday. The agreement was the result of the hard work of plenty of people who stood for the independence of Estonia, she added.

Low ratings: Iva to the rescue?

IRL has had consistently low ratings for many months, a situation that neither the bickering between the junior partners in the previous Reform Party government nor the current internal power struggle have helped alleviate. Commentators believe that electing Kaia Iva the party’s new chairwoman could work to broaden its appeal, and better position it for the upcoming local elections.

While Iva becoming chairman would likely mean little to no change to the coalition government, Seeder is expected to make changes, potentially exchanging Iva for someone closer to him.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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