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Center Party places Savisaar on the top of candidates list

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PHOTO: Sander Ilvest

The extended board of the Center Party discussed last week offering Edgar Savisaar the number one place in the local election list of candidates and unanimously decided that if the ex-chairman should want to stand in Tallinn, he should head the list.

Mikhail Korb, secretary general of the party, told Postimees that Savisaar has not yet been offered the top place. But will they? “This is one of the options in case Edgar Savisaar should want to stand in the Center Party list”, Korb said.

According to Korb, Savisaar has not yet informed the party whether and how he will stand. “For the time being it is speculation, since Savisaar has not even said whether he will join the Center list”, the secretary general said.

Once the party board reached the conclusion, no one objected, according to Korb. “They all agreed that, yes, this is possible (that is offering the top place to Savisaar) and it would not be a bad idea to put him there.”

However, according to Korb, the actual decision would not be made by the party board or extended board meeting, but the party's Tallinn council. It is likely that they will draw up the list of candidates at the final moment in the end of August.

Political scientist Tõnis Saarts told BNS that offering top place to Savisaar should be viewed in the  light of the recent conflict in the party. “Savisaar and his supporters were sent a clear signal that the party has not abandoned them and thus they are trying to further reduce the likelihood of Savisaar and the two remaining “sisters” Oudekki Loone and Olga Ivanova forming their own list”, Saarts said.

“It is also possible that offering top place to Savisaar was part of the compromise achieved during negotiations between the “three sisters” and the Center leadership last week”, he added.

“Savisaar clearly remains an important vote magnet for the party and his top placement would hardly deprive them of Estonian voters, since the Tallinn campaign would center around other names instead of Savisaar, for example Taavi Aas, Mikhail Kõlvart, Mailis Reps and others”, Saarts said.

Hanno Pevkur, chairman of the opposition Reform Party, considers the plan regarding Savisaar a proof that the coalition's leading party has not changed despite all promises. Pevkur announced in the social media that the Center move primarily displays the weakness of Jüri Ratas and his surrender to extortion. “Is there anyone in Estonia who believes that Savisaar is presently the best candidate for the Center Party? How can the party ticket be headed by a man who is tried on serious corruption charges? This is an insult to the public sense of justice and a proof that nothing has changed in the Center Party”, Pevkur wrote.

In the opinion of Helir-Valdor Seeder, chairman of Pro Patria-Res Publica Union (IRL), Savisaar's possible participation in the local election would not affect the coalition, but he nevertheless would not like it. “ I do believe that if the city council chairman, the mayor, the deputy mayor, who has resigned by now, and several other officials and politicians are under investigation, then they certainly should not stand in the local election”, Seeder told BNS.

“I do hope that the voters will express their opinion and the one-party rule will end with the local election”, Seeder added. “And I do not mean only the center Party here; I am deeply convinced that long-term monopoly of power – at the state or local level – is not good. And the Tallinn case has proven it well in practice.”

Rainer Vakra, the Social-Democratic candidate for the mayor of Tallinn, stated in social media that he is bewildered by the Center Party decision regarding Savisaar.

“I cannot understand why the Center Party is offering the opportunity to Edgar Savisaar after everything what has happened and seemingly invite him to become a candidate. Are they buying reconciliation in some way? Or suppressing separatism? Is is part of the deal which prevented Yana Toom from joining the alternative ticket? I cannot find any decent reason or rational explanation”; Vakra wrote.

“As a coalition partner I am of course sad for them, not to say more. Generally it is a brainless and short-sighted proposal”, he concluded.

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