Siim Kallas is running for President

Tuuli Koch
, reporter
Please note that the article is more than five years old and belongs to our archive. We do not update the content of the archives, so it may be necessary to consult newer sources.
Photo: Pm

Up to now, his answers regarding a run for President of Estonia have been to the tune of «let's wait and see, not excluded». But on April 16th in the small hall of National Opera Estonia, Siim Kallas will give a speech, at the end of which, to the knowledge of Postimees, he announces his candidacy. 

This morning, an invitation to come and here Mr Kallas was supposed to drop in mailboxes of local government leaders, politicians in various political parties, entrepreneurs and opinion leaders. The speech will amount to start of presidential elections, after which Mr Kallas will be personally expecting public debated about current situation in Estonia and the world. Following the event in Estonia, Mr Kallas wishes to meet representatives of parties in parliament.

Also, in his April 16th address the honorary Reform chairman will announce the creation of Eesti Rahvuskultuuri Fond – Foundation for Estonian National Culture – aimed at supporting community culture. Considering that the presidential elections may move beyond the Riigikogu to the broader electoral body, Mr Kallas has taken the right initiative in his campaign.

Till today, no other potential candidate has publicly confirmed to intend to run.

Prime Minister backs Kallas

Up to now, in polls the best favoured candidate to follow Toomas Hendrik Ilves has been the non-party foreign minister Marina Kaljurand. She is trailed by Centre chairman Edgar Savisaar who in turn is trailed by Mr Kallas.

To the knowledge of Postimees, Ms Kaljurand is far from having given up thoughts of candidacy. It’s another matter how much support she will have in various parties, especially in the very Reform who set her in place as foreign minister. At the moment, Reform seems to have gone after supporting Mr Kallas while we only have to do with an official address by Mr Kallas and his candidacy ought to be confirmed by board of Reform where some surely will support Ms Kaljurand. To Postimees’ knowledge, Reform chairman and prime minister Taavi Rõivas supports the candidacy of Mr Kallas.

After the official announcement by Mr Kallas, other parties are likely to be setting forth candidates of their own. Thereat, IRL may play on Lüri Luik, a man who served as government minister in various roles and represented Estonia at NATO. As for Free Party, they have mulled the diplomat and writer Jaak Jõerüüt.

While auditor general Alar Karis has been mentioned, to the knowledge of Postimees this is not to be and Mr Karis isn’t thinking of the post personally. Him running would also be hindered by his current post having allowed him to sharply criticize politicians in office. So he’d be hard pressed to find political support.

As for Centre, due to infighting they will probably have to play outside the parliament as within their 27 member faction the 21 votes to set up a candidate will not be found.  

Willing to seek extra support

Headed to the elections, Mr Kallas is willing to play big cards. For him, it’s no problem to negotiate with Mr Savisaar and seek support by his party.

After unexpectedly backing out from trying to become prime minister in March 2014 and leaving Estonia, Mr Kallas also grew distant from Reform and begun to seek support from other parties. It all changed at the beginning of this year. In February, a team begun to be assembled in Reform to go with Mr Kallas during presidential campaign.

As honorary chairman of Reform, he has often swum against its political stream. This may be intentional to showcase Mr Kallas as a presidential candidate independent of Reform – as, after he officially opts to run, criticism will surely be voiced regarding Prime Minister and President not supposed to hail from same party.

At the beginning of the year, lots of leading Reform cadre were upset by announcement by Mr Kallas that as Estonia assumes presidency of EU in 2018, we might propose that the entire EU do away with corporate income tax from reinvested profits. In the same address, Mr Kallas essentially upbraided the government of Taavi Rõivas for a lack of a clear vision and programme with which to attract pan-European attention during the presidency.

These past weeks, Mr Kallas has been all talk about rearranging the entire tax system – a Reform dogma.

Estonia elects its new President in August/September.