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Edgar Savisaar breaks out of seclusion

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PHOTO: Kantar Emor

Vengeful, mean, filled with anger, betrayed, a benefactor of the citizens of Tallinn and Estonia, a power-hungry old man from Hundisilma - these are the epithets used to refer to Edgar Savisaar by his former and current brothers-in-arms, political competitors, and analysts since yesterday.

A video was uploaded to Edgar Savisaar’s Facebook account the evening before last where an old, tired-looking man says he is still ready to fight and recalls all the good he has done for other people, how his closest friends and brothers-in-arms have betrayed him and stripped him of power.

The post was followed by comments from the Center Party’s secretary general, chairman, Riigikogu faction members. The message was that the Center Party, ruling in the city as well as on Toompea Hill, is shocked by the former chairman’s announcement that he will take his own list to local elections this October.

Center’s political competitors see Savisaar’s decision - should it hold until registration of candidates - as a possibility the Center Party will be the one to end its hegemony in the capital.

From the moment businessman Urmas Sõõrumaa announced he would put together his own election list, rumors of consultations between him and Savisaar have run rampant. This weekend’s news does not, however, suggest Savisaar could join Sõõrumaa. Rather negotiations could revolve around the possibility of Sõõrumaa, but also a good number of other entrepreneurs not happy with the ruling part of Center in Tallinn, supporting Savisaar’s campaign. To extend or restore their influence, but also secure new opportunities in the cemented power corridors of Tallinn.

Competitors believe that Savisaar’s name will bar the need for colossal campaign sums. Campaigners joke that all Savisaar needs to do is attend church in Lasnamäe once a month, or once a week before elections, or surprise commuters in a Lasnamäe bus on a few mornings. It would even be possible to do without television ads as finding a way to sneak greetings from Savisaar into the homes of his followers half-secretly would bring even more votes.

Who else would run in Savisaar’s list? Olga Ivanova, perhaps Oudekki Loone? Young Russians working on the so-called Ivanova list are still out there. Then there are Savisaar’s old comrades going back to the days of the People’s Front, Tallinn Television loyalists who were forced out…

Savisaar’s list would benefit every other election list out there as it would come with the possibility of the first coalition the capital has seen in 12 years. Only the Center Party stands to lose. Savisaar could be having a merry old time imagining how he should be expelled from Center for running in a non-Center list.

Deputy chairman of the Social Democrat Party (SDE) Anto Liivat said it is possible that Savisaar plans to pick up the votes of people disappointed in the Center Party only to form an alliance with the party later. Liivat added, however, that he does not believe current heads of the party would like such a coalition.

The Pro Patria Res Publica Union’s (IRL) mayoral candidate Raivo Aeg ruled out cooperation with Savisaar’s list. Parties are maintaining a low profile in general, however, and are not quick to voice ultimatums. The Reform Party’s candidate for mayor Kristen Michal has said they will not work with the Center Party.

The Center Party stands to lose a lot of votes in the capital should Savisaar register his list with the electoral committee. No fewer than 42 percent of Center’s voters said in a recent poll that they would vote for Savisaar’s list should one appear.

Expert at pollster Kantar Emor, Aivar Voog, said that Center’s 43.5 percent rating in Tallinn would be reduced to fewer than 21 percent.

«Of course this is a hypothetical situation as Savisaar can only run in a single district; and provided the list lacks attractive candidates in other boroughs, this potential will not be realized,» Voog explained. «That said, he would take more than half the vote in Lasnamäe, and Savisaar has a chance to show he is still worth something.»

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