Savisaar runs against Center Party to support it

PHOTO: Erik Prozes

“I planted you. I brought you up and watered you. I made you bloom. And if I want...” said the actress Marika Vaarik, who played Edgar Savisaar in the eponymous production of NO Theater two and a half years ago. “…you will break me!” Helena Pruuli, playing the tearful Kadri Simson, ended the sentence.

Savisaar held a similar dialogue yesterday, not necessarily with Simson, but the Center Party.

What Savisaar and Ivanova had been threatening for several months, became a fact yesterday. They will form an electoral bloc of their own for the autumn local election in Tallinn. This had seemed likely for the whole week, but several interviews and a news conference yesterday made it official.

Tangled motives

Somewhat surprisingly, this move was accompanied by rather confused explanations. On the one hand, Savisaar and Ivanova stand against the Center Party in another list, yet they claim to do it to support their party. One the one hand they claimed to support Jüri Ratas and the government at the national level, but criticized the premier’s incomplete solutions in national politics, which forced them to form their electoral bloc. The subtext is quite clear: Savisaar has turned away from the Center Party.

Why? Savisaar repeatedly quoted the Kantar Emor poll published by Postimees earlier in the week, according to which the Center Party would lose 42 percent of voters if Savisaar’s bloc should stand in the election. According to the pollster’s expert Aivar Voog this would mean that the Center Party’s 43.5-percent support in the capital would plummet to less than 21 percent.

But apparently Savisaar has other motives to turn against the party, which refused to re-elect him as the chairman last autumn. It is no secret that he views the party’s leading figures, the chairman and Prime Minister Jüri Ratas and the deputy chairmen and ministers Mailis Reps and Kadri Simson as traitors.

Yet the latter refuse to accept that lot. Ratas remained very diplomatic during the government news conference yesterday. “I have told him (Savisaar – Ed.) several times that the best and most correct way for him would be to run on the Center ticket and this message is still on the table;” the party chairman said, adding that Savisaar has been given some very bad advice regarding the forming of the electoral bloc.

Ratas was also asked what would happen if Savisaar and his bloc should run.

“I believe that his political future is linked to the Center Party”, the premier said. He still would not turn against Savisaar, although the latter is already aligned with the opposition.

Savisaar would perform his mission even if his bloc could seize enough votes to qualify for the city council – five percent or approximately 11,000 votes. This would mean that the Centrists would be unable to benefit from the citywide compensation mandates as massively as they used to. Unless there is more than one bloc (besides Savisaar), which barely misses the necessary five percent, since that would again boost the number of compensation mandates significantly. In such case most of them would go to the Center Party as the most likely winner.

Savisaar is successfully realizing his war plan, against the Center Party among others. Õhtuleht published an interview with him yesterday, he was interviewed by Postimees in Estonian and Russian and held a press conference in the evening.

No definite candidates

An outside viewer would hardly believe that this is the same person, who will have to face court again next week. While the process has been obstructed by Savisaar’s failing health, he gave solid answers yesterday in the two studios of Postimees and at the press conference. With the exception of various tricks of demagoguery, on which Savisaar wrote a study when he was still a student.

Yet even yesterday failed to bring any clarity about the candidates on Savisaar’s and Ivanova’s list. According to Savisaar, they already have some 80 members. Peeter Ernits, who attended the bloc’s meeting on Monday, told Postimees on Wednesday that the figure is closer to 40.

Based on yesterday, one could expect that the list includes the artist Neeme Lall and the pro-Kremlin politician Andrei Zarenkov, who has repeatedly taken bribes while working as the head of the Maardu community center. Besides them, there had been other supporters of the electoral bloc in the hall, described by Ernits as fit young men speaking in Russian.