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IRL chairman candidates: No major disagreements among party members

Helir-Valdor Seeder (left) and Kaia Iva (right) at ERR, May 9, 2017.
Helir-Valdor Seeder (left) and Kaia Iva (right) at ERR, May 9, 2017. Source: (Siim Lõvi/ERR)

Candidates for the chairmanship of IRL, Kaia Iva and Helir-Valdor Seeder, met for a short debate at ERR on Tuesday morning. Iva said that if elected she would want to continue as minister of social protection, Seeder left the question of a ministerial position open.

Seeder, formerly minister of rural affairs under Reform Party prime minister Andrus Ansip, said he would “make his proposals through the party, not the media”. He added that if he was elected chairman this Saturday, then the question needed to be addressed as well if the party’s leaving chairman, Minister of Defence Margus Tsahkna, would remain in government.

Between 2007 and 2011 Mart Laar had been IRL chairman and headed the party’s parliamentary group, so this precedent existed.

Iva said that she wouldn’t like to hand on the work of the minister of social protection to anyone else, and that there were plenty of challenges still waiting.

Asked by ERR’s Indrek Kiisler if they expected Margus Tsahkna and chairman of the Riigikogu’s Foreign Affairs Committee Marko Mihkelson to leave the party, both rejected the idea. Tsahkna and Mihkelson had previously criticized the decision of IRL’s leadership to elect a new chairman before considering changing the party statutes to the effect to make the party’s internal affairs more democratic, and more conductive to new ideas.

Neither of the two candidates wanted to predict the votes they might be getting on Saturday, but both said they thought their chances were good. Seeder said that he considered Iva as well as himself a good candidate.

Despite plenty of recent bickering along the old fault lines of Pro Patria and Res Publica, both candidates stressed that there were no wings or different groups in the party. When Pro Patria and Res Publica merged, there had certainly been difficulties, but since then people had come to know each other, Iva said.

Seeder said that everything was fine as far as democracy within the party was concerned. “There is no closed group that holds all the power, and no fault line between Pro Patria and Res Publica people,” Seeder said.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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