Soc dems pondered Ossinovski for prime minister

Jevgeni Ossinovski

PHOTO: Elmo Riig / Sakala

A month ago, soc dem inboxes had a proposal drop by: why not replace the current party chief Sven Mikser by Jevgeni Ossinovski as prime ministerial candidate.

No coup meant – it was just former soc dem secretary-general Rein Org inspired by the IRL manoeuvre of having Juhan Parts as prime-minister-to-be instead of party chairman Urmas Reinsalu.  

Among others, the call was appreciated by Jaan Kaplinski. Many others thought the same. As confirmed to Postimees by Mr Org, the discussion did take place in the party. «I suggested we might at least consider Jevgeni as prime minister candidate,» said Mr Org. «The idea was that the persona of Jevgeni is liked by many. He has clearly proven himself and his obvious advantage is being the so-called Estonian Barack Obama as having crossed the national boundaries. He is loved by Estonians and Russians alike, and we do not have too many politicians like that.»

The idea died at discussion level, but Mr Org remains convinced that one day Mr Ossinovski will be Estonia’s prime minister.

Mr Ossinovski and his closest comrade-in-party Jaak Allik have done an impressive job in Ida-Viru County. At local elections in fall of 2013, Mr Ossinovski in Narva pocketed 2,403 votes against the former local superstar Mihhail Stalnuhhin’s (Centre Party) 1,338. Soc dems were jubilant.

Was the Ossinovski-move meant to go even harder after the non-Estonian vote? «I have played no part for years now, in the party’s tactical planning,» noted Mr Org. «Rather, I’m watching from the sidelines how it looks for us. To occupy a certain niche or get extra voter ... sounds like a predator. In reality, life in this land needs to be so ordered that both communities will be part of the success and feel this land is «our» land. And this can be obtained by this very way of having people on top embraced by both sides. That’s the main reason.»

Education minister Mr Ossinovski said various standpoints do crop up in a party. «Soc dems go to elections with Sven Mikser running for prime minister and that’s altogether prudent,» said Mr Ossinovski.

While some people in the party are saying Mr Mikser is too burdened as defence minister and has no time to lead the party, Mr Ossinovski categorically refutes that: «As part of the party board, I can assure you Mr Mikser is a strong leader for the party. From the outside, there may be another impression, but to this I cannot agree.»

According to a mid-October Emor party-popularity poll obtained by Postimees, success seems secured for the current coalition. Among the 1,655 people participating, 1,368 count as they intend to go vote. Reform Party is favoured by 27 percent and soc dems by 24 percent of these.

With the numbers, nationalities show: while Reform Party and IRL are clearly Estonian-speakers parties, soc dems – to say nothing about Centre Party – are popular among the others.

Among soc dem supporters we find 25 percent of Estonians and 20 of other nationalities. Centre Party has 10 and 69 percent respectively. Meaning: soc dems have started to draw non-Estonians from Centre Party and their voter structure is almost 50:50 when it comes to Estonians and non-Estonians. Centre Party, however, has not too many Estonian voters left.