Savisaar holds out for official results, Reform Party edged out of key cities

  • 2005-10-26
  • Staff and wire reports
TALLINN - Coalitions materialized in Estonia's large towns throughout the week, while the biggest intrigue 's who will be Tallinn mayor 's remained unresolved as leading candidate Edgar Savisaar postponed making a final decision.
Savisaar, who heads the Center Party, has said he would make up his mind whether or not to become mayor in the capital once the election results are officially confirmed.

During the campaign Savisaar, who is currently minister of economy and communications, said that if victorious, he would return to the mayor's spot in order to complete unfinished business. However, after his party won 32 out of the 63 seats on the Tallinn City Council, he backtracked, saying he first wanted to consult with the prime minister.

However, official endorsement of the results has been delayed due to a complaint from Igor Grazin, member of the Reformist faction, filed with the central electoral committee (see story on Page 1).

If the central electoral committee refuses to satisfy Grazin's complaint, he may file an appeal to the Supreme Court, which will effectively postpone a final endorsement of the results.

In the meantime, parties put together coalition agreements throughout the country. In Tartu, the country's second largest city, the Reform Party and the Center Party signed an agreement in accordance to which the Reformists will get the post of mayor and the latter of deputy mayor.

Tartu Mayor Laine Janes told the Baltic News Service that the Reformists would also fill the posts of four deputy mayors as well as the seat of deputy chair of the City Council. She added that three Reformist deputy mayors, Sven Illing, Georg Aher and Anto Ili would continue in their former seats.

"I would prefer to continue working with the old, well-oiled team," Janes said.

In Parnu, the Center Party, Res Publica, Pro Patria Union and the People's Union signed a cooperation agreement on Oct. 24. Centrist Mart Viisitamm, an earlier deputy mayor, will become mayor, while the current mayor, Ahti Koo of Res Publica is to get the post of City Council chairman.

The four-party coalition will have 21 seats in the 33-seat City Council, with the Centrists controlling nine, Res Publica and the Pro Patria Union five each and the People's Union two seats.

Viisitamm told Radio Estonia that it had been quite easy to draw up the coalition agreement, because there were many common points in the parties' electoral promises. The coalition agreement contains 62 points, including a 500 kroon (32 euro) annual cash subsidy for pensioners and a rise in subsidies for newborn children.

Also, if Parliament endorses respective amendments, an overnight stay tax will be introduced, as well as the so-called "two-homes tax" for those who have a summer house in Parnu.

Meanwhile, the Eesti Paevaleht speculated that the Reform Party has been squeezed out of several municipal coalitions due to pre-presidential election maneuvering on the part of the opponents.

As the paper explained, the Reform Party received 83,953 votes across the country in the local elections, or second after the Centrists, or nearly 17 percent of all ballots cast. Still, the liberal party has found itself in the opposition in Paide, Haapsalu, Parnu and Rakvere, in the towns of Otepaa and Rapina, as well as in the Viimsi local government that is home to a significant part of the country's political and business elite.

Sources told the paper that Parliament could amend election laws to change the principles for forming the electoral college that elects the president. People's Union and Pro Patria Union politicians claim the Center Party wants the electoral college to include more members from cities and large rural municipalities, which would help the party choose the country's next president.

The Center Party has denied the rumors. The party's administrative general secretary, Kadri Must, told the paper it was pointless to search for a conspiracy just because the Reform ended up in the opposition in Parnu and Haapsalu.

Under the Constitution, the president is elected by Parliament. If the legislature fails to get an absolute majority of votes in three rounds, an electoral body made up of MPs and representatives of the local government councils must be convened.

President Arnold Ruutel was elected president by such an extended body, consisting of 101 MPs and 266 local council representatives on Sept. 21, 2001. At the time he was honorary chairman of the People's Union.

The 77-year-old Ruutel has yet to say whether he would seek a second five-year term.