TALLINN - Leaders of the troubled Res Publica party have expressed approval to the idea of a merger with another right-wing force, Pro Patria, as the country's political landscape looks for ways to survive the parliamentary election set to take place in less than a year-and-a-half. Tonis Lukas, chairman of Pro Patria, recently suggested that the two parties cooperate more closely.
Outgoing Tallinn Mayor Tonis Palts and Juhan Parts, former prime minister, both Res Publica party members, immediately supported the proposal.
There have been reports that both Parts and Palts doubt whether Res Publica could survive as an independent party.
"I am appealing to members of Res Publica to launch an open and public discussion of the issue, because it will be a good thing for Estonian politics," Parts was quoted as saying. "We cannot make judgments on the basis of politicians' personal interests, so personal ambitions have to be suppressed as far as possible."
Parts said he hoped that a right-wing consolidated party could garner the support of 30-35 percent of the electors in the parliamentary elections in spring 2007.
"In order to offer the electors a reliable and fresher choice, the time before the new elections would be extremely suitable for the rise of a new party," Parts said.
For his part, Palts is in full support of the idea.
On his blog-page, he wrote, "Lukas understands that instead of one of the two conservative parties winning about 10 seats in the next parliament and being asked to learn to eat curd snacks at the end of a bench in the Old Heathen's government, it will be possible to set up a strong conservative party," referring to the Center Party and the recent ad scandal involving that party's logo and a curd snack.
Palts said the two parties' merger had so far not taken place mainly because of the party leaders' personal ambitions.
"In that respect, Tonis Lukas is a pleasant exception. He does not hold on to his seat at all costs like former Communist Party leaders, who only left into the grave with a loud crash," Palts said.
Marko Pomerants, chairman of Res Publica's parliamentary faction, said the party should seriously discuss Palts' statements. "At any rate, we have to seriously handle within the party Palts' repeated unauthorized political statements, because no merger plan has been discussed in the party," he told the Baltic News Service.
Pomerants said the proposal made by Lukas was an interesting expression of ideas, one showing that the Pro Patria Union was emerging from its earlier isolation and starting to prepare for the 2007 election.