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Despite Centre board headwind, Simson stays at helm in Riigikogu

Yesterday, Centre's Riigikogu faction went against decision by party board from the day before and voted for Kadri Simson to keep on leading it.

Having led the faction since 2009, Ms Simson got voted back with votes of 14:12. Valeri Korb and Mailis Reps continue as her assistants.

First out of the faction facilities, Heimar Lenk was visibly disturbed by the meeting. He said that what just happened was terribly undemocratic. «Awful, the way Kadri Simson holds meetings. Five minutes before the elections she altered the election rules by writing in it that she was going to be voted for three years. We have always, ten years running, voted the faction head in for one year at a time.»

The day before yesterday, Centre Party board took a decision pursuant to which a favourite of Edgar Savisaar, deputy chairman of the party Jaanus Karilaid was to lead the faction. As vice chairmen of the 27-member faction, the board envisioned  Olga Ivanova and Viktor Vassiljev.

As the results came out, Ms Simson commented by quoting Mr Savisaar who said after congress that a win by one vote is still a win. «As I accept that Mr Savisaar narrowly won at the congress, I expect there to arise no problems with the 27 members at the faction regarding the atmosphere for work,» she said.

As for the proposal to alter the election rules, she said the other parties do not vote for faction heads every year. But the proposal failed to find consensus so Centre will keep on voting yearly.

Mr Simson said the very vociferous party secretary-general Priit Toobal participated at the meeting yesterday but pursuant to Estonian law board of faction is not elected by secretary-generals of parties but by Riigikogu members.  

She said Mr Savisaar did not make it to the meeting though «treated» various faction members the night before, promising things to some and threatening others. While doing that, Ms Simson thinks he should have realised that the faction was supportive of the current board to continue. «I met Mr Savisaar yesterday (the day before – edit), he promised me nothing, he found no fault with me except that I run at the congress,» she said.

According to Ms Simson, the faction will now proceed with its daily job. «It will be the tough everydayness just continuing. As leading a faction in opposition is no party,» said Ms Simson, smiling.

After the elections, Mr Karilaid told journalists that Ms Simson won narrowly but firmly. «The reasons may be many, maybe the outcome of the congress is still felt. It will take time for the party to be made into an organic whole,» he said.

Mr Karilaid said he congratulated Ms Simson with an Anneke chocolate bar. He said this is a new situation in the party as up to now the faction has always considered the opinions of the party board. «How the party adjusts to that, weeks ahead will tell,» he said.

He said work will have to go on and was hopeful that the faction will be as one force at that. Via press-release, Centre Party secretary-general Priit Toobal said that the supporters of Jaanus Karilaid are considering having recourse to administrative court.

Mr Toobal said the faction house rules were altered by force at last moment as the meeting started. He thinks the alterations contradict Centre statutes.

«It is not allowed to try and alter house rules five minutes before electing faction board as altering it must be ratified by party board,» said Mr Toobal.

Having run for Centre faction vice chairman, Olga Ivanova also spoke about option of going to court. «I think the result is null and void,» said Ms Ivanova. Mr Karilaid, however, recognised the win by Ms Simson and confirmed he had no plans to contest the result.