The leadership of the Center Party on Monday decided to expel MP and Lasnamäe chapter chair Olga Ivanova as well as another 31 members from the party for running outside of Center Party lists in the upcoming local elections. Party chairman Jüri Ratas supports the move.
"The leadership on Monday made a decision with regard to the candidates in Tallinn, and the leadership will deal with the remaining regions in Estonia next," Jaanus Karilaid, a member of the party's leadership, told BNS, implying that there will be more expulsions to come.
Despite her expulsion, Karilaid said that Ivanova is to remain a member of the board of the nonprofit association Estonian Center Party. "This situation is based on the Non-Profit Associations Act," he explained.
He added that the expulsion was effective immediately, but added that he did not know when the party would appoint a new chair for its Lasnamäe chapter.
Ivanova, who is running in the Oct. 15 elections as part of the Savisaar Election Coalition and Active Tallinn, has previously told the media that if she were to be expelled from the party, she would challenge the move.
Ratas: Those expelled had already removed themselves
Commenting on the expulsion of 32 members from the party, Prime Minister and Center Party chairman Jüri Ratas said that candidates running in election coalitions had already essentially removed themselves from the party's list and the party leadership had only to finalize the relevant decision.
"Everyone has the right to run on a list that is suitable for them, but in that case, one must make a concrete choice and state it honestly," Ratas said. "The leadership made the decision for those people who are running against the party but did not have the energy to leave the party themselves."
He added that the party statutes clearly state that every member of the Center Party is obligated to support the party's election campaign. "Unfortunately, the candidates who are running in election coalitions in Tallinn have behaved very unfairly toward the party, its members and first and foremost its voters, for example by claiming that they are running in support of the party," said Ratas. "The Center Party's program can only be supported by running in the Center Party or by voting for the party, and claims otherwise are simply misleading.
The party chairman expressed hope that, going forward, Ivanova will take into consideration the fact that she was elected to the Riigikogu as an envoy of the Center Party and will respect her voters and the party's platform.
According to Ratas, half a thousand people are running as part of the Center Party's list in Tallinn, a clear indication that the party is strong heading into the elections. "The Center Party has the strongest list in the capital and a substantial platform, which, according to various surveys, is also highly valued by voters," he noted. "It is regrettable that we must expel people, but it is necessary and fair in order to maintain trust in the party."
Editor: Aili Vahtla