Tuesday morning's no-confidence vote against Tallinn Mayor Taavi Aas (Center) failed, receiving only 38 of the required 40 votes in the 79-member Tallinn City Council. The Center Party group did not participate in Tuesday's council meeting.
As mayor of the city, Aas is responsible for what goes on there, Kristen Michal (Reform) said regarding the reason for the no-confidence vote, citing the most recent scandal in connection with Tallinn public transport company Tallinna Linnatranspordi AS (TLT).
"When we met with Taavi Aas, he didn't even remember how long he had been chairman of the supervisory board of TLT," Michal recalled. "And throughout this long period of time that he has been supervisory board chairman, he didn't notice anything suspicious. Every scandal connected to the City of Tallinn is characterized by the fact that they are in charge of their own. Seven of seven TLT supervisory board members are Center Party members; there are Center Party members on the board as well."
Martin Helme (EKRE) said that while they knew that the no-confidence vote would fail, it was still a clear message to the Center-dominated city government.
"On the one hand, it demonstrated that the opposition parties are capable of cooperating," he said. "On the other, we sent a clear signal to the Centrist city powers that their power is hanging on by a thread. And that sooner or later, some Center Party member here in the city council will understand that they cannot support corruption forever."
According to Helme, Center councilmembers not participating in Tuesday morning's meeting was a sign that the party was worried that someone might have voted wrong.
Aas: Governing Tallinn without Center Party impossible
"To govern the city it isn't enough to be against everything. Running this city without the Center Party is impossible, or possible only in a very ineffective way," Aas said ahead of the no-confidence vote on Tuesday morning.
According to the mayor, the motion of no confidence is based on a very strenuous line of reasoning. The city's economy is doing well, which is an assessment international rating agencies support, Aas said.
"Being negative and painting Tallinn as a sort of hell on Earth isn't getting us anywhere," he added. "Even the traffic jams we're blamed for are a side effect of roadwork and a sign of the city's development."
Commenting on the opposition's standpoint that corruption in the capital can't be rooted out so long as the Center Party governs the city alone, Aas said that there have been situations making the city "less than proud" but that they have taken decisive action against those.
"Even in the best families there are people who make mistakes," Aas said.
Opposition: Corruption needs to be dealt with
The no-confidence motion was launched by the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union (IRL), the Reform Party, the Social Democratic Party (SDE) and the Conservative People's Party (EKRE).
Riina Solman, leading IRL's group, said that Tallinn's corruption problem has become a serious obstacle for business in the city. The fact that some things only move when bribes are paid undermines the trust of businesses in the city, and kept investors from coming in. Putting an end to corruption in Tallinn is of decisive importance for the economic development of all of Estonia, Solman said.
EKRE's Urmas Reitelmann said that the Center Party's ten years of unchecked power in the city had put a party food chain in place, and the current mayor had neither the power nor the will to change the situation.
The opposition has 38 council mandates against the Center Party's 40. Of the total 79 mandates, one is also held by former long-time Center Party chairman Edgar Savisaar (independent).
Latest case: Tallinn's sports director arrested
The Central Criminal Police arrested longtime Tallinn Sports and Youth Department director Rein Ilves on May 2, who in December stepped down from his position due to other scandals, on corruption-related charges.
The procurements to lead to the charges involved, won by Ilves' nephew and classmate, cost Estonia's capital city over €1.3 million. Police arrested a second man in addition to Ilves as well, reported daily Postimees (link in Estonian).
The two men are accused of giving preferential treatment in procurements organized by Tallinn Sports and Youth Department.
Sports Department deputy director Ain Kivi, who had participated in the procurement, admitted that the police investigation did not come as a surprise to him, as he had already seen a city internal audit on the same subject.
Editor: Dario Cavegn