TALLINN - The Center Party's executive council nominated current Deputy Mayor Juri Ratas as its candidate for Tallinn mayor and Toomas Vitsut, head of the outgoing City Council, for council chairman, on Nov. 8.
The nomination came one day after party leader Edgar Savisaar announced that he would not take up the mayor's office in Tallinn and instead focus on completing what he started at the Economy Ministry.
Writing in the Postimees daily, Savisaar said, "Working as minister in the present Cabinet until the end, I'll still have enough time to continue as mayor of Tallinn on the basis of the mandate voters have given me."
As the Center Party chief explained, he could easily become mayor once the current Cabinet's mandate expires in March 2007.
"The present government will probably stay in office until March 2007, but the mandate of the newly-elected City Council runs until October 2009," he said.
"I have promised that if the people of Tallinn put their trust in me, I will again take up the mayor's post. I intend to keep my promise. I will become mayor of Tallinn, but not just now," he said.
Savisaar said there was much unfinished business in the government and that, as economy minister, he wanted to help resolve management issues at Eesti Energia (Estonian Energy), the monopoly power utility, and help establish a national development fund.
He also said he didn't want to disappoint Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, a member of the Reform Party, by exiting the Cabinet early. An abrupt departure would weaken the government's "fairly strong centrist tandem" formed by himself and Villu Reiljan, chairman of the People's Union, Savisaar explained.
"Together we've pretty well balanced out some extreme solutions. All of Estonia has benefited from this," he said.
The newly-elected City Council was to gather for its first meeting on Nov. 10. At the earliest it would appoint the new mayor next week.
Based on the results of the Oct. 16 poll, the Centrists secured 32 mandates in the 63-member City Council.
Meanwhile, Taavi Veskimagi, leader of the right-wing Res Publica party, said it would've been better for Estonia had Savisaar abandoned the ministerial post.
"The current stealthy trend is the rapid strengthening of the influence of Russia and Russian business circles in Estonia, and so it would be necessary for us to have an economy minister with a strong western orientation," Veskimagi was quoted as saying. "Unfortunately, Savisaar has shown by his conduct that his political dominant continues to lie in the East," Veskimagi, a former finance minister, said.
The Reform Party will have 15 seats, Pro Patria Union seven, the joint list of Social Democrats and People's Union six, and Res Publica three seats in the next City Council.