TALLINN - Mayor Edgar Savisaar will have to step down after the City Council passed a no-motion vote in his coalition on Thursday, paving the way for the trio of parties ruling the national government to take joint control of Estonia's largest city as well.
Thirty-four council members voted in favor of the no-confidence motion, with two voting against, 24 not not taking part and three absent.
The council voted Tonis Palts, former mayor and finance minister, in as the city's new mayor.
The no-confidence vote was initiated by Res Publica, a right-wing opposition party, at the end of September. A letter attached to the motion said the under Savisaar's leadership, the city had become mired in serious financial problems and that his party, the Center Party, was using city resources as a means to spread party propaganda. In addition, the mayor's opponents said that the mayor was unable to rein in corruption.
Faction Kaupo Reede also cited Savisaar's inability to lead the capital city in an efficient and democratic manner.
Prior to the vote, Savisaar rejected all the accusations. He said the behavior of the Reform Party, which had been part of the ruling coalition in Tallinn but had defected to the ranks of the opposition after cutting a deal with Res Publica, was demonstrative of those members' personal problems, though he added he would forgive them.
After the vote, Savisaar said that he would apparently never return to work in the Tallinn city government, but was not afraid of remaining jobless. But he told BNS that he would first take time off to think what he would do next.
The no-confidence vote began possible after a wave of defections from the Savisaar-led Center Party in recent weeks. Party members have accused the former mayor of an authoritarian style of leadership and not doing enough to help the Centrists influence policy on the national level - currently under control of Res Publica, the Reform Party and the People's Union.
Palts, who is a member of Res Publica, graduated from Tallinn Technical University as a radio engineer in 1976. He was finance minister in Prime Minister Juhan Parts' government until his resignation just weeks after taking office. He is now member of Parliament.