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Pevkur to back Kaja Kallas in Reform Party chairman elections

Pevkur called on party members to support Kaja Kallas in the chairman elections in January.
Pevkur called on party members to support Kaja Kallas in the chairman elections in January. Source: (Rene Suurkaev/ERR)

Reform Party chairman Hanno Pevkur has announced he will support MEP Kaja Kallas (Reform/ALDE) in the party's internal elections in January. At the same time, Pevkur also criticized Siim Kallas and Kristen Michal for their "plotting and scheming" to trigger a leadership change.

Reform Party chairman Hanno Pevkur told daily Postimees that he will support Kaja Kallas in the party's upcoming leadership elections in January. Pevkur, himself elected chairman only in January this year, has recently been under enormous pressure, with several influential party members openly speaking in favor of electing a new party leader before the campaign for the 2019 parliamentary elections heats up.

Pevkur told Postimees that he is calling on all of the Reform Party's members to back Kaja Kallas in the January chairman elections to put an end to the intrigues in the party, and enter the campaign for the 2019 Riigikogu elections as a "united team" with the aim to win them and return to government.

Pevkur criticizes Siim Kallas for openly supporting daughter

Pevkur also criticized Kaja Kallas's father, former EU commissioner Siim Kallas, who said in an interview with ERR last week that the Reform Party needs to enter the campaign for the Riigikogu elections in March 2019 as a "united team" with a competent leader.

After Kallas suggested the necessary internal elections should be scheduled for summer 2018, Pevkur and the party's leadership came out with the decision that there was no point in delaying anything, and that the party would vote on its new leader already in January.

"Kaja Kallas will be prime minister sooner or later, but her father's zeal paving the way for his daughter is in bad taste and does leave the impression of so much plotting and scheming," Pevkur commented on Wednesday.

Pevkur was also critical of former minister of economic affairs, Kristen Michal (Reform), who is seen as the party realpolitiker behind its shift away from Pevkur and towards Kaja Kallas. Pevkur suggested Michal should "look for a new challenge in the private sector".

Pevkur's luckless year, the Reform Party's first in opposition after 17 years in government, has been marred by infighting in the party. Postimees reported in November that there had been meetings between Michal and the Kallases to discuss a possible leadership change.

All hopes on Kaja Kallas

Kaja Kallas time and again has been tipped as a favorite for a whole range of positions, including minister of foreign affairs and party leader. Currently serving as one of Estonia's representatives in the European Parliament, Kallas is popular and seen as one of Estonia's most able politicians.

She may well be the Reform Party's best bet for the 2019 elections. Though the party has several prominent politicians and former ministers that could be interested in the job, including former minister of foreign affairs Urmas Paet as well as former minister of economic affairs Kristen Michal, none of them would stand for real change in the party's attitude.

And the party needs such a change to improve its image. Though they have been able to more or less sustain voter support in the polls, the opinion that has dominated since the fall of Taavi Rõivas's government last year is that their 17 years in government made the party arrogant and complacent.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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