Tempers flare in Estonian parliament as presidential vote nears

  • 2006-08-29
  • By TBT staff
Estonian President Arnold Ruutel told the Postimees daily that the nomination of a single candidate in parliament did not live up to democratic ideals.

"I am not glad about what is happening in parliament. I hope no other Estonian president will be elected in such a way," Ruutel said. "When I said at the beginning of this year that I hoped the president would be elected in parliament, I hoped parties would find several worthy candidates who would be nominated after a constructive discussion for a final decision by the parliament," he said.

"But a situation where only one name appears on the ballot does not represent the democratic ideals in the name of which we restored our independence," Ruutel said.

Sixty-five members of the Estonian parliament from four factions this morning nominated Social-Democrat Toomas Hendrik Ilves, member of the European parliament, as their candidate for the second parliamentary round of voting.
The application for Ilves's nomination was signed by representatives of the Reform Party, the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union and the Social Democratic Party (SDE).

SDE chairman Ivari Padar, who took the application to the electoral committee, said Ilves's chances in the electoral college would be higher than those of incumbent Arnold Ruutel. "We could save time and money and elect Ilves in parliament," he told BNS.
The chairman of the Estonia's Social-Democratic Party, Ivari Padar, said the possibility that some Center Party and People's Union members would vote for Toomas Hendrik Ilves for president could not be ruled out.

"If two stubborn party chairmen tell free representatives of the people in a free country that listen, chaps, you can vote as we tell you to, then the contents of democracy has boiled down to that a free man in this free country can do everything he is told," Padar told BNS.

Padar said it had become very unpleasant for the two parties' members to be representatives of the people in the present high-pressure situation. Padar doubted that any new candidates would be introduced. "The four parties have thoroughly weighed all the possible candidates and the People's Union and the Center Party are bound by their cooperation agreements," he said. "I can see no reason why they should drop it tomorrow."

Ain Seppik, chairman of the Center Party, said that right-wing parties should follow the agreements their deputies had signed onto. "Our recommendation to the architects of the anti-Ruutel coalition is to think in the key of the same 65 votes that has been achieved as the result of extreme discipline," he said.

Seppik said there was no good and no bad decmocracy. "Democracy either is or is not. We do not call the four parties' agreement signed in back rooms a separate agreement," he added.