Former IRL minister joining Pro Patria list would like old job back

Tõnis Lukas.
Tõnis Lukas. Source: ERR

Former minister of education and long-time party member Tõnis Lukas announced on Thursday that he is joining Pro Patria as a candidate in the general election next year. Lukas told ERR that in case Pro Patria should return to government after the election, he would like to be minister of education and research again.

Lukas told ERR that he decided a few weeks back not to run, but that he has had a change of heart. Though he hasn't formally rejoined his party, he will run on Pro Patria's Tartu list, he said.

Lukas was minister of education from 2007 to 2011. He currently heads Tartu's vocational education centre. Before that, Lukas was the director of the Estonian National Museum. Lukas left politics and Pro Patria precursor IRL in 2013. In an interview with ERR's Aktuaalne kaamera newscast on Thursday, Lukas said that any function he might hold in the future will profit from his time away from politics.

He also suggested that other long-termers of Estonia's political scene should do the same, as it significantly affects one's perspective on life in the country.

Lukas is expected to be made Pro Patria's number one candidate in Tartu. The party has had considerable difficulties finding a leading candidate for the district, and given Lukas' experience and standing, he is the obvious choice.

Lukas confirmed that he would become an MP in the Riigikogu if elected, but immediately expressed a preference for a more hands-on position, making it very clear that he would like his old job back: "I would like to busy myself with something more practical, like vocational education, or the portfolio of the minister of education and research," Lukas said.

Pro Patria has been on the lookout for popular candidates, as its ratings have been in the doldrums and at times even below the 5% threshold for a long time. The recent government crisis revolving around the United Nations' Global Compact on Migration may serve to win back some of Pro Patria's supporters that have switched to the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) in recent years, but whether or not chairman Helir-Valdor Seeder and Justice Minister Urmas Reinsalu's gamble will pay off still remains to be seen.

Lukas meanwhile stands to his party. "Pro Patria needs to go on doing its work. Patriotism can be positive and fun," he said, adding that under Seeder the party has "set things in motion" and is headed in the right direction.

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Editor: Dario Cavegn

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