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Former Viljandi mayor leaves Pro Patria, joins Estonia 200

Ando Kiviberg.
Ando Kiviberg. Source: Private collection

Former Viljandi Mayor Ando Kiviberg has left Pro Patria/Isamaa. Kiviberg was mayor of Viljandi from 2013 to 2017, when he was among the more outspoken critics of the way Estonia's parties handle local politics. He is reportedly joining the Estonia 200 movement.

Kiviberg is only the latest of several prominent and long-time members of Pro Patria and its precursors (IRL, Pro Patria Union, Res Publica) to leave, others include former Minister of Defence Margus Tsahkna, important and internationally well-recognised Riigikogu member Marko Mihkelson, IT pioneer Nortal's founder and CEO Priit Alamäe, rector of the Estonian Academy of Security Sciences Katri Raik, former Riigikogu speaker Ene Ergma, and several more.

According to Alamäe, who is also one of the people behind the Estonia 200 movement calling for a slim state and a more technocratic approach to politics, Kiviberg was in touch with them already last week about joining the group.

Estonia 200 at this time is not a political party, but may well turn into one before this year is out.

Complaints about the way Pro Patria handles local politics

Leading up to last year's local elections, Kiviberg complained about the fact that it is Riigikogu members and top party politicians that set the mood of a campaign that will affect the local and not the national level.

Kiviberg himself was duped by Pro Patria chairman Helir-Valdor Seeder at the time. He described in an opinion piece how his party went about putting together a list for the city of Viljandi for the local elections in cooperation with the Free Party.

Following pressure by Pro Patria's national leadership, the agreement was broken off, only for Kiviberg to face sharp criticism from the same party body and being forced to reverse the decision.

The public in Viljandi saw the switch as an expression of Kiviberg's supposed higher ambitions, and as evidence that he was trying to get the highest possible place on the party's list in the 2019 national elections, however unrealistic that idea was at the time, and the party's manoeuvring eventually cost Kiviberg his reelection.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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