The 16 MPs not running in the general election, and some of their reasons

The Riigikogu building,  Toompea Castle, Tallinn..
The Riigikogu building, Toompea Castle, Tallinn.. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

The general election in March will see the departure of 16 sitting MPs, who have decided not to seek re-election. The democratic process is likely to see a certain amount of natural wastage of course, and the reasons given are to be expected – unavoidable aging, a desire to move into the private sector, family commitments, disillusionment with politics etc. Here follows a party-by-party breakdown of all 16.


Toomas Paur and Karin Tammemägi will not seek re-election with coalition majority party Centre. Additionally, former Centre member Olga Ivanova, who quit the party in late summer to become an independent, is also stepping down.

Ms Ivanova, whose leaving Centre coincided with mass party defections in the Narva city council following a corruption scandal, told ERR's Russian-language channel ETV+ that she had become disillusioned with parliamentary work and an inability to implement intiatives and plans.

Olga Ivanova, formerly of Centre. Source: Kairit Leibold/ERR

"In order to achieve something in parliament, you need to have a very good relationships,'' she told ETV+.

''You need to be able to engage in intrigue, lobby for your interests, communicate in the corridors with a smile, and so on,'' she continued, adding that the loss of someone close to her was an additional factor.


Of coalition junior partner Social Democratic Party (SDE)'s 14 current or former MPs, three are not running again: Hanne Hanso, Jaanus Marrand, and former entreneurship minister Urve Palo.

''I've been thinking about leaving politics for some time now and I think the time is right...I am leaving on a positive note,'' said Urve Palo last summer, after quitting both ministerial role and party. Since government ministers do not sit at the Riigikogu, they return to parliament when stepping down, assuming they had been elected in the first place (health minister and fellow SDE member Riina Sikkut is an example of a former civil servant who is now a minister. Were she to step down, she would not go back to the Riigikogu, never having been elected).

Ms Palo did however continue to vote with the SDE voting bloc, in parliament.

Urve Palo (formerly of SDE). Source: ERR

Hanne Hanso stated a desire to spend more time with his family. ''I have a wife, Riina, and four small children. I have been thinking about my life and decided to turn a new page and not seek re-election,'' he said.


The other coalition party, Isamaa/Pro Patria, is losing just one current MP: Former broadcaster and some-time one woman standup act Maire Aunaste.

In general, I have felt comfortable up there at Toompea Castle,'' said Ms Aunaste on ETV morning magazine show Hommik Anuga back in Autumn.

She did however reflect on the stress of the role, including constant social media and email alerts as well as interaction with the public (perhaps heightened by her previous role in the media).

Maire Aunaste (Pro Patria). Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

''I can't go anywhere, since I don't know what people are going to throw at me next,'' she said on the show.

''Even a cashier at [Tallinn shopping mall] Solaris once said she was disappointed in me – it turned out, due to disapproval of Ms Aunaste's transition from TV to politics. Presumably the disenchanted cashier will be pleased to know Ms Aunaste is reportedly returning to a media career after the election, with Tallinna TV.


Reform, the largest party in terms of seats with 30, will lose Peep Aru, Lauri Luik, Meelis Mälberg, Anne Sulling and Terje Trei at the next election.

Peep Aru, 66, has said that whilst he has no regrets, he is too old for the role and no longer wants to ''split the difference''.

''If the Riigikogu were in Viljandi [where he lives] I would be happy to run, but having commuted between the two towns for 13 years [a distance of about 150km – ed.] I am getting too old to continue that routine,'' he told ERR.

Anne Sulling (Reform). Source: Reform Party

Of the other Reform MPs whose reasons for stepping down are reported, Anne Sulling has said she wants to return to the private sector after several years in politics, albeit in the same field (foreign trade, innovation) she has been working in at the Riigikogu.


The Free Party is losing four members, Jüri Adams, Krista Aru, Enn Meri and Jüri Saar.

Veteran politician Jüri Adams already expounded at length in ERR News on his reasons for stepping down, which he defined as being the 'waste of time' that was the XIII Riigikogu, as well as citing health issues.

Professor of Criminology at the University of Tartu Jüri Saar, said that focussing on professional work was his main priority. Mr Saar had been a subsitute MP in any case, standing in for Külliki Kübarsepp who is on maternity leave.

When an MP steps aside from their role, either due to being appointed a minister as explained above, or due to maternity leave, sickness, or any other reason, the next person on that party's electoral list who did not gain a seat at the last election, in the district the departing MP ran in, will take the spot. If an MP returns to their seat, that substitute will step down – something which happened when Urve Palo returned to the Riigikogu after quitting as entrepreneurship minister.

Krista Aru expressed disillusionment with the whole parliamentary process.

''I have repeatedly noticed that if you are already in the Riigikogu, you would need to be somewhat of a schemer, to have your finger in a variety of pies,'' she said.

Krista Aru. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

''If you are on the other hand an honest and decent person, it's not going to make any difference,'' she went on.

The only other party currently represented in parliament, the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) is seeing all seven of its current Mps running again.

Other parties registered for the elections on 3 March which are not currently represented include the Estonian Greens, and two newcomers, Estonia 200 and the Richness of Life party.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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