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Indrek Saar throws his hat in the ring, sort of, as potential SDE leader

Indrek Saar (SDE).
Indrek Saar (SDE). Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Indrek Saar (SDE), current Minister of Culture, has announced that he would be able to cope with being leader of his party to at least a satisfactory level, given his experience.

''I have never made the claim that I am particularly interested in the role [of SDE leader],'' Mr. Saar told ERR on Thursday.

''But if necessary, I would feel obliged to do so. Given my political experience, I could at least perform the role adequately, although neither the SDE leadership or board has proposed the move,'' he went on.

Party need not get stale

Mr. Saar is speaking in light of recent ratings surveys which show SDE popular support on the decline. He also added that the party's governing organs need to bear in mind that their mandate has a use-by date.

''It is always possible to convene a general party assembly and elect new governing bodies, but as yet the party has not opted to do that. What has been decided is that the SDE election committee should meet in mid-December, to decide on the election lists [for 2019's parliamentary election].

Estonian weekly Eesti Ekspress had reported in early July that Mr. Saar had his sights set on the party chair position, thus replacing current incumbent Jevgeni Ossinovski.

Beset with problems

Yet another party not immune to internal strife, as has been reported in recent weeks with the Centre and Free Parties, the SDE have seen continued criticism of the current leader and of his apparent attachment to the unpopular alcohol excise duty hikes. Mr. Ossinovski stepped down as Minister for Health and Labour in early May, with the role going to party fellow Riina Sikkut.

Amongst other signs that all is not well with the red component of the coalition government, former Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology Urve Palo quit both that post and the party altogether, in August. Some speculation has fallen on supposed differences of opinion between her and Mr. Saar.

Indrek Saar, 45, comes from an arts background having been a director or manager at both Rakvere Theatre, and Tallinn's Theatre No. 99, as well as being an actor. His wife is well-known actor Ülle Lichtfeld. Mr. Saar has been a Riigikogu member since 2007.

Rene Tammist (SDE) was sworn in as new Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology on 22 August.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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