Nestor reelected with record number or ruined ballots

Eiki Nestor.

PHOTO: Mihkel Maripuu / Postimees

Even though Riigikogu Speaker Eiki Nestor, running against himself in the regular Board of the Riigikogu election, was reelected with 51 votes, 24 ruined ballot papers speak of dissent in the parliament.

The election saw the participation of 97 MPs. Nestor got the votes of 51 delegates and had 22 vote against him, while no fewer than 24 delegates decided to express their protest to Nestor's candidacy by ruining their ballot papers. The coalition has 56 votes in the Riigikogu.

Chairman of the parliament's Free Party faction Andres Ammas said that the results speak of a crisis of trust in the Riigikogu as no agreement held on the floor.

„All three candidates got fewer votes than they had hoped and had agreements in place for,“ Ammas said. „This shows that MPs do not keep their word, and all of it hurts the reputation of the Riigikogu and Estonian politics as a whole further. It is possible to speculate as to why agreements failed in the case of all three candidates. There are grievances against each of them. Just as everyone has a motive in a classic murder story, everyone had a motive for betrayal here.“

Ammas admitted that the board has been brittle. „I believe Enn Eesmaa has been a remarkably good administrator over the years. Balanced, funny, warm, positive; however, even Eesmaa didn't get the votes he could have,“ Ammas said. „That is to say the result does not have to do with persons, their leadership skills and personal traits; rather it is a game of base passions, vengeance. It is all quite depressing.“

Member of the Center Party faction Jaanus Karilaid said that considering the fact there have been attempts to turn members of coalition factions against Nestor over the past few days, the result is positive. Especially considering that two coalition delegates were on a foreign mission.

„I was afraid there would be more schemers, political hawks,“ Karilaid admitted. „Deals have been offered in exchange for voting against Nestor. Such attempts were pursued by a few people; however, their influence remained modest indeed.“

Why hurt Nestor? „Motives vary, as it is in politics,“ Karilaid said. „Who wanted a better deal, a better position. It is the everyday of politics. Considering the situation and tensions in politics today, the number of rogue votes was very small.“

Chairman of the Riigikogu Eiki Nestor also did not dramatize the results overmuch. “I know this much from experience that the coalition's potential and actual vote yields in Board of Riigikogu elections only coincide immediately after parliamentary elections. They have never coincided in later years,” Nestor said. “That is why the results were less than surprising for me. The exact same thing happened to the two deputy chairmen as they were also supposed to get a different number of votes in theory. It's just politics. I've been telling people today that I'm a substantial enough character to have enemies.”

Nestor admitted that it is unpleasant to run alone. “Were there two candidates, people would vote differently.” He added that it is easier for people to slip blank papers into the ballot box in a situation where there is a single candidate who will be elected anyway.

“Everything is fine and no ill feelings as far as I'm concerned,” Nestor said. “However, the new coalition definitely has more people unwilling to vote for me than the previous one did.”

The oppositional Reform Party backed its member Taavi Rõivas for deputy chairman, while Center stood behind Eesmaa. The latter got 47 and the former 34 votes. Invalid ballots numbered 16.