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Savisaar vs Simson – no bowing out

Kadri Simson ja Edgar Savisaar. PHOTO: Erik Prozes

Distracted, disarrayed, dismayed – descriptions tossed these days about Centre faction folks at Riigikogu, ones thus far known for being organised and disciplined to the uttermost. 

The deterioration did actually begin the day that Edgar Savisaar was served the bribe suspicion. This week, it has deepened due to faction head Kadri Simson announcing running against Mr Savisaar (in Centrish, «alongside Mr Savisaar») at party congress.

«One can sense the power lines are entangled indeed, the mutual trust isn’t there, and Kadri is mostly into travelling Estonia and campaigning. It is felt,» said a Centre faction member.

Adds another: «The party tensions are rising daily.» For years, Mr Savisaar has been to Toompea rarely, taking no part in the work of the parliamentary faction.

Opting to drip information about support to the one or the other, in the various regions, Centre can stay constantly in the picture for one more month to then watch an honest duel on November 29th as in the party they don’t believe either would bow out to favour the other.

«Honest? Can’t tell, but a bona-fide fight for sure,» observed a member of Centre faction. «The fight will be real, and the defeat also,» a top Centre cadre pities Kadri Simson in advance.

The rise of Ms Simson, one in the narrow inner circle around Edgar Savisaar, to contend for the throne made many a veteran Centrist shrug – why play democracy when the result is known beforehand.

Even if majority of the 20 Centre regions – 15 counties and five cities – says they go for Ms Simson, behind the voter curtains the 1,000 or so delegates expected to show up at congress will surely be rather swayed towards Mr Savisaar.

Ms Simson said she runs to spare the health of Mr Savisaar. The latter failed to take this too seriously, along with many others in the party.

«They are waiting for Kadri to declare her attitude towards the leadership style at party thus far, towards the treaty with Russia’s power party, the Crimea issue, the corruption, the constant opposition status,» said a deputy to the congress weighting own options.

«But it will surely be a duel more serious than when Jüri Ratas failed in 2011.» The party has chosen smart tactics: on the one hand, the leader issue is being kept up publicly, on the other hand bringing the Ms Simson camp out gradually will rob opponents the early opportunity to counter. They say that Ms Simson’s father and Mr Savisaar’s friend Aadu Must has in regions begun to readily support the daughter.

As assured yesterday by Centre regional head at Rapla County Mailis Reps, they choose Ms Simson. «There are many at the party who view chairman elections as a vote of honour towards Edgar Savisaar,» said Ms Reps. «But as inside the party the choice is up to people, then in the rural areas what is heard most is the expectation that the party would again be active outside of Tallinn as well, that the chairman would meet the people more, that decisions would be collegial, that it would be possible to enter into dialogue with other parties. These expectations are clearly shaped and, naturally, are pointing to supporting Kadri Simson.»

Centre Party elects its chairman at congress held on November 29th, on Edgar’s name day, in Tondiraba Skating Arena, Tallinn. 1,092 delegates are expected. To elect the chairman, every delegate has one vote. Party departments, regions, bodies and private members have equal rights to set up candidates.

-Edgar Savisaar supporters*

Mustamäe, Tallinn (region represented by 39 deputies)

Pirita, Tallinn (16)

Põhja-Tallinn (57)

Kristiine, Tallinn (27)

Haabersti, Tallinn (29)

Lasnamäe, Tallinn (87)

Kohtla-Järve (also supporting Ms Simson; 30 deputies in total)

-Kadri Simson supporters*

Narva (32)

Rapla County (20)

Kohtla-Järve (also supporting Mr Savisaar; 30 deputies in total)

* as at yesterday