Indrek Tarand MEP is to stand for the Social Democratic Party (SDE) at the 2019 general elections in Estonia, he announced on Friday. Mr. Tarand, who has been an independent MEP and member of the Greens/European Free Alliance at the European Parliament since 2011, and also ran for the Estonian presidency in 2011, had already knocked back offers to join from Pro Patria and Centre.
"With Sotsid (ie. the SDE), I can primarily see a common understanding of what is at stake for Estonia at the next election," Mr. Tarand said of his decision.
"The SDE impresses me in always living up to its values, protecting individual freedoms and standing up for the weaker members of society,'' he went on.
''What is especially important for me, however, is that we are in total agreement that Europe is our home and that we must have the courage to resist all those who would seek to harm our home," he went on, seemingly an oblique reference to Wednesday's treason scandal which saw two men arrested for passing classified information to Russian intelligence agencies.
Useful addition to the team
SDE leader Jevgeni Ossinovski expressed his pleasure at the party getting such a noteworthy member of the team.
"Indrek is one of the most capable characters in our political life without exaggeration,'' said Mr. Ossinovski.
''I'm very happy that we will be going to the elections with him on board and striving for a free, caring and happy Estonia,'' he went on.
Mr. Tarand will be running in the Pärnu electoral district at the general elections on 3 March 2019, it is reported.
Indrek Tarand has been a member of two MEPs. In the European Parliament elections in 2009, Mr. Tarand received 102,509 votes as single candidates. In the 2014 European Parliament elections, Mr. Tarand re-elected as an independent candidate and re-elected, gathering 43,390 votes.
He also ran against Toomas Hendrik Ilves in the 2011 presidential election, being presented by the Centre Party (presidential elections in Estonia are, in the first instance, held as a ballot of members of parliament and the president is not directly elected by the people).
Mr. Tarand, who is not actually an SDE member at present, had previously been linked with the Free Party as a possible election platform, and had not ruled out running in the 2019 European elections either.
The SDE has seen some discord of late with former minister Urve Palo quitting and current Minister of Culture Indrek Saar hinting that he might be interested in leadership of the party.
Joining Mr. Tarand at SDE in time for 2019 will be former presidential candidate Marina Kaljurand and Andrus Vaarik. Evelin Ilves, the former Estonian first lady, acknowledged to ERR that she will make an annoucncement regarding her possible candidacy in September.
Indrek Tarand and SDE leader Jevgeni Ossinovski will be making a direct broadcast to ERR a little after 17.00 EEST on Friday. Readers with Estonian can view it here.
Editor: Andrew Whyte